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As the name suggests, a blood test involves examining your blood to determine the status of your health. It helps you stay on track of your body’s overall well-being.
Regular blood tests allow you to know if you’re at risk of any illnesses or diseases. This helps you implement lifestyle modifications and other interventions to avoid escalations.
Blood tests help determine the functioning of your body organs such as the liver, kidneys, and thyroid. (1)
Blood Tests That Can Save Your Life
Here are the various blood tests that can save your life by preventing severe health conditions and illnesses.
1. Complete blood count
The test includes:
- Red blood cells (RBCs): Knowing your red blood cell (erythrocyte) levels helps ensure that your health is on the right track. For males, the normal RBC range is 4.3–5.9 million/mm3, whereas for females, the normal RBC range is 3.5–5.5 million/mmA. (2) A higher or lower level of RBCs may be signs of dehydration, anemia, or abnormal bleeding.
- White blood cells: The levels of white blood cells, or leucocytes, also indicate illnesses or diseases since they are involved in the body’s immune responses. The normal range is (4500–11,000/mm3). A level higher or lower than the normal one may be due to infections, cancer, or autoimmune disorders.
- Platelets: The normal range is (150,000–400,000/mm3). A higher or lower level of platelets (also known as thrombocytes) indicates a clotting or bleeding disorder.
- Hemoglobin levels: Hemoglobin levels can be very helpful in knowing your health status. The normal level is 13.5–17.5 g/dL for males and 12.0–16.0 g/dL for females. A lower than normal hemoglobin level can be a sign of anemia, sickle cell disorder, or thalassemia.
- Hematocrit levels: Hematocrit levels measure the total volume of red blood cells in your blood. The normal range is 41%–53% for males and 36%–46% for females. A higher level may mean you’re suffering from dehydration, whereas a lower level may indicate anemia.
- Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) levels: MCV measures the average size of your red blood cells. The normal range is 80–100 µm3. A lower level may mean anemia or thalassemia.
Normal CBC levels differ for men and women. They are also affected by age and ethnicity. Higher altitudes may also manipulate the results. (4)
To sum up, CBC helps in identifying the following issues:
- Deficiency of healthy RBCs or anemia
- Improper clotting or bleeding disorders
- Blood cholesterol levels
2. Comprehensive metabolic panel
The comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) includes a bunch of tests that measure the presence of different components that occur naturally in your body, such as electrolytes. The test is performed on the plasma, or the fluid part of the blood. (5)
The test gives insights into the health of your organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart. (6) This includes testing your blood for the levels of:
- Glucose – This helps in knowing if you’re suffering from or are at risk of diabetes. (7)
- Creatinine – This helps in determining if your kidneys are functioning well. (8)
- Sodium – A lower or higher sodium level than normal can tell a lot about your kidney and heart health. (9)
- Calcium – Abnormal calcium levels in the blood indicate bone and related diseases. (5)
- Blood urea nitrogen – This is another test to assess if your kidneys are working fine. (9)
Some of these tests may require you to fast beforehand. So to get accurate results, ask the lab personnel what not to eat or how long to fast before the test.
3. Blood enzyme tests
Enzymes are defined as biocatalysts – they help control and drive biochemical reactions in your body. Blood enzyme tests involve a variety of tests that are helpful in calculating and screening the risks of a heart attack. (10)
When your heart muscle is damaged, an enzyme called troponin increases in the body. Another enzyme called creatine kinase (CK) is released into the blood when heart muscles are damaged. So, high levels of CK and troponin would indicate a risk of a heart attack.
4. Lipid profiling
Also known as a lipoprotein panel or lipid panel, a lipid profile is done to measure cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body. This includes testing for low and high-density lipoproteins (LDL and HDL). (11)(12)
Abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglyceride can be a sign of potential coronary heart disease. These tests are done after fasting for at least 9–12 hours.
A lipoprotein panel includes:
- Total cholesterol
- LDL, also known as bad cholesterol because it causes artery blockage and cholesterol buildup
- HDL, also known as good cholesterol as it combats cholesterol buildup in arteries
They are used to look for diseases such as:
- Artery blockage or atherosclerosis
- High cholesterol buildup
- Coronary heart diseases
5. Coagulation panel
Also known as clotting tests, a coagulation panel examines the proteins responsible for the clotting process. An abnormal result of this test is indicative of clots in blood vessels or a bleeding risk. (13)
6. Bone marrow tests
The bone marrow is responsible for producing healthy blood cells. So, a healthy bone marrow level is extremely important.
In this test, a small amount of bone marrow fluid is collected through a large aspiration needle. (14) This test involves some risks. Notify your healthcare provider if you experience fever and the following symptoms at the test site:
7. Thyroid panel
A thyroid panel is done to measure the amount of thyroid hormones present in your blood. (15) The hormones include:
- Triiodothyronine (T3)
- Tetraiodothyronine or thyroxine (T4)
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
Thyroid hormones are very important for a healthy body as they have effects on your metabolism, body temperature, growth, and other important processes. They ensure you have a good mood and normal energy levels for a good quality of life.
Most often, this thyroid function test is the only one that is needed to assess a person’s health and thyroid function.
8. C-reactive protein test
A C-reactive protein (CRP) test is done to measure the level of C-reactive protein in your blood.
CRP is made by your liver. During an inflammatory response, it is released in your blood. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to any injury to protect itself or as a defense against infection.
This is why a high level of CRP in your blood may indicate a serious infection or some other health issue. (16)
Most-Asked Questions About Blood Tests
Where should I get blood tests done?
You should get your blood tests done at licensed laboratories. You can get them done in a nearby hospital if they have the service or make an appointment for an at-home sample collection.
Why do some tests require fasting?
Eating anything causes an increase in nutrients in your body that may affect some hormones or other chemical levels, leading to inaccurate test results. Fasting ensures your test reading is free from any variables.
Some tests that require fasting are:
- Glucose tests
- Lipid profile
- Kidney tests
Is there any risk in getting blood tests done?
Generally, blood tests are not risky if you get them done by a licensed practitioner.
You may experience a few minor symptoms after getting the blood work done. These include:
- Pain at the site of injection
However, all of them resolve within a few hours.
Blood tests screen your health and body to look for possible risks and catch any disease early on, thereby preventing any escalations or severe progression of the condition.
The frequency of getting blood tests done depends on your age, family history, and other risk factors. Talk to your healthcare provider to know how regularly to get them.
If you have a family or medical history of heart, thyroid, or other such chronic diseases, blood tests will ensure your condition is properly controlled. They are also good for optimizing health as they help identify the necessary lifestyle changes to be adopted.