All about blood tests
Blood tests are a standard component of general and preventive medical care. A doctor usually orders a blood test before or after a physical exam. A doctor may also order blood tests to evaluate specific conditions.
A regular blood test is one of the most important ways to know your general physical well-being.
Testing at regular intervals allows you to see how your body is changing over time and to make informed decisions about your health. This is done by a nutritionist.
Who should have regular blood tests?
A person should talk to their doctor about necessary routine tests. A doctor can order a blood test only if they are concerned about other conditions or can request an annual test as part of their preventive health plan.
Some people who take medicine to thin the blood need regular blood tests. A doctor can advise you on how often to test based on your risk factors and personal needs.
People will be able to have a blood test done at their doctor’s office. However, for some tests, the person must go to a specialized center or hospital.
Types of blood tests
During normal physical activity, a doctor may order one of the following tests:
Complete blood count
The complete blood count (CBC) measures different parts of the blood, namely:
- Red blood cells
- White blood cells
Average corpuscular volume (MCV): the average size of a person’s red blood cells
Hematocrit: how much space red blood cells take up in the blood.
A CBC test can help your doctor diagnose problems such as anemia, clots, inflammation, infection, or immune system disorders. A person should fast before the CBC test if asked by their doctor.
Blood enzyme analysis
Blood enzyme tests measure the levels of specific enzymes in the body. The body produces enzymes that help regulate chemical reactions within the body.
Enzyme blood tests can help your doctor diagnose specific health problems, including a heart attack. If a doctor suspects a heart attack, they will monitor the levels of the cardiac enzyme troponin, which is released when the heart is injured.
Blood coagulation tests
The blood clotting test, also known as a clotting panel, looks for a protein that helps blood clot. The doctor may order this test if he suspects that the person has a blood clotting disorder.
If a person is taking warfarin or other blood thinners, a doctor will use a specific blood clotting test as part of a routine checkup.
If a doctor wants to assess a person’s risk of developing coronary artery disease or other atherosclerotic problems, they will order a lipoprotein or lipid panel. The Lipoprotein Panel provides information on an individual:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level
- Total cholesterol level
- Triglyceride level in the blood.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, a person should fast for 8 to 12 hours in front of a lipoprotein panel.
If the results indicate abnormal levels of cholesterol or triglycerides, it indicates that the person is at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Basic metabolism panel
The Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP) measures the levels of various chemicals found in the plasma component of the blood.
BMP, also known as the Blood Chemistry 8 test, provides information on bones, muscles, and organs.
A doctor will tell you if a person needs to fast before the BMP test and for how long.
BMP tests look at the following:
Corrected Calcium Levels: Abnormal calcium levels indicate a person’s underlying condition related to their kidneys or bones, cancer, malnutrition, or other diseases.
Glucose level: indicates that a person with a normal blood glucose level has or is at risk for diabetes. Some people need to fast before a blood glucose test.
Kidneys: The presence of excess waste products such as blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine in the blood indicates kidney problems.
Electrolytes: Abnormal electrolyte levels may indicate dehydration, kidney, or other underlying condition problem.
What is the normal functioning of the blood?
These procedures are usually done in a lab or doctor’s office and take a few minutes.
To perform a blood test, a nurse or technician:
- The area of the hands cleans the area where they bleed.
- Tie an elastic band around your upper arm to make your veins more visible.
- A needle attached to a tube to draw blood is gently inserted into a vein.
- Remove the needle from your skin and remove the elastic band from your hand when the collection is complete.
Cover the extraction area with a clean bandage or cotton and medical tape.
The risks of routine blood tests are very low, but can include:
- Slight pain or discomfort when the needle goes in
- Blood loss Epilepsy
- Vein puncture
How often should I have regular blood tests?
Your doctor will generally recommend a blood test at least once a year at the same time during your physical year.
Low count. There are several main reasons why you may want to run more blood tests than that:
You have unusual and persistent symptoms. These range from fatigue to abnormal weight gain and new pain.
You want to optimize your health. Knowing the different levels of blood components, such as HDL and LDL cholesterol, allows you to adjust your diet or fitness plan to reduce unhealthy habits (you may not even realize they are unhealthy). It also increases the number of nutrients stored in your body.
You want to reduce the risk of disease or problems. Regular blood tests can detect the first signs of any disease. Most heart, lung, lung, and kidney conditions can be diagnosed with blood tests.
If you want to have more than one test a year, talk to your doctor first.
Should I do some simple tests and others?
Some common routine tests:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Chemistry panel (basic metabolism)
- Thyroid panel
- Nutritional testing to detect significant levels of nutrients such as iron or B vitamins
Some other tests you may need:
- Enzyme markers if you have cancer or other conditions such as liver cirrhosis, stroke, or celiac disease.
- STI testing (STD) if you have multiple sexual partners or a new partner
Why is fasting necessary for some blood tests?
Everything you eat and drink contains vitamins, proteins, and other nutrients that can temporarily raise or lower the corresponding levels in your blood.
Fasting for 8 to 12 hours will help ensure that your blood test results are free of these variables, making your test results as accurate as possible.
Some common tests that require fasting are:
- Cholesterol tests
- Blood sugar tests
- Liver function tests
- Kidney function tests
- Basic metabolism panel
- Glucose tests
How long does it take to get results?
Results can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to be available. Here’s an overview of how long some simple tests may take:
- Complete blood count (CBC): 24 hours
- Basic metabolism panel: 24 hours
- Complete metabolism panel: 24 to 72 hours
- Lipid panel: 24 hours.
It depends on the specific lab you have tested or how many tests you run at one time. If you order multiple tests, you will not receive full results until they have been completed.
Sometimes the lab will only give the results to your doctor, who will review them and release them to you.
How long will the results take?
Result times may vary depending on the type of test performed on the person. For some tests, the wait time is a few minutes. For other exams, the waiting time maybe a few days or more.
A person should ask their doctor how long it takes for the results to appear. They should also check to see if the doctor will get the results or if the lab will send them directly to the person.