The human body is complex and a lot happens internally that we don’t get to know. The health issue you might be facing could be due to various reasons that can only be found out after medical screening. One of the most common screenings is a blood test that checks several parameters to find out the root cause of the problem. Not just that, it also helps in monitoring the vitals in people who are having a chronic issue like diabetes, thyroid, etc. In short, blood tests are very helpful in identifying the problem and keeping a track of its progression. This is why doctors advise getting blood tests done annually.
What is a Blood Test?
Blood tests are a part of preventive healthcare and routine health checkup to evaluate overall health status. A laboratory attendant who is experienced in conducting blood tests would take your sample and test it. There are various types of blood tests done for different uses. Here are some reasons why you can opt for a blood test:
- Check your general health
- See if you are having any deficiencies
- See levels of vitals such as haemoglobin, blood sugar, thyroid, etc.
- Check possibility of a genetic or hereditary disease
- Diagnose an underlying condition either chronic or acute
- Find out the causes of symptoms that you are experiencing lately
It takes a couple of minutes only for the blood test. Many people have phobia or fear of needles- Trypanophobia and so they don’t go for blood testing. This is not right because it might make you miss out on dangers and warning signs. If you get tested timely, you can get prompt treatment and prevent the disease from progressing.
We all know the basics of blood testing, how they are done, types, procedures, benefits, etc. but most of us do not know the significance or importance of blood tests. This shouldn’t be seen as a choice but a need for your well-being. Touchwood if you don’t suffer from health issues, still you must get blood tests done at regular intervals. If you are dealing with any problem and the doctor prescribes a test, get it done at priority. Meanwhile, here are some reasons when you must get blood testing done:
- If you are encountering uncommon, persistent symptoms such as fatigue, debilitating pain, unexplained weight gain/loss, etc.
- If you are willing to know cholesterol levels in the body
- If you are showing signs of nutrient deficiencies
- If you wish to optimize your health and prevent diseases
- If you are experiencing unusual pain or discomfort in the chest or abdominal area
- If you have diabetes, thyroid, liver fat, etc. issues
Types of Blood Tests
Let us tell you about the common types of blood tests that are done. We got in touch with Mr. Sameer Bhati, Director of Star Imaging & Path Lab to know about the common blood tests that are performed in pathology labs.
Complete blood count or CBC
The CBC test is done to analyse about 10 different components in your blood. The major components being- red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, haemoglobin and haematocrit. If you often feel fatigued, your haemoglobin levels could be low. Similarly, dropping RBCs or platelets is a sign of weakening immunity. Getting CBC test can help in identifying the problem and providing medical aid. Below are the optimal levels:
Red blood cells(RBCs)- Men: 4.32–5.72 million cells/mcL, women: 3.90–5.03 million cells/mcL
White blood cells(WBCs)- 3,500 to 10,500 cells/mcL
Platelets- 150,000 to 450,000/mcL
Haemoglobin- Men: 13.5–17.5 grams/deciliter (g/dL), Women: 12.0–15.5 g/dL
Haematocrit- Men: 38.8–50.0 percent, Women: 34.9–44.5 percent
If the levels are abnormal, you may be having one of the following issues:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Tissue inflammation
- Issues in bone marrow
- Underlying heart condition(s)
Basic metabolic panel
After CBC, the second important blood test is BMP or basic metabolic panel test that check for the below-listed compounds in the blood:
- Carbon dioxide
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
If you are getting tested for this, you need to fast for about 8 hours before giving your samples. Some of these tests also need blood samples after eating to check for the levels. If the levels are abnormal, it might indicate hormonal imbalances, diabetes, kidney disease, etc.
Complete metabolic panel
The basic metabolic panel comprises of basic elements whereas complete metabolic panel testing analyses all compounds including additional proteins that are linked to liver functions. These are:
- Total protein
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
- Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
- Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
If the test results show abnormality in either level, it can be due to underlying health issues like:
- Liver cirrhosis
- Bile duct blockage
- Hepatitis infection
- Inflammation in gallbladder
- Bone metabolism disorders
- Liver cancer
- Heart conditions
- Gilbert’s Syndrome
Lipid panel testing is done to check lipoprotein or cholesterol levels in the body. There are two types of cholesterol:
- HDL or high-density lipoprotein
- LDL or low-density lipoprotein
HDL is good cholesterol as it breaks down harmful substances present in the blood allows them to eliminate from the body through waste. LDL, on the other hand, is bad cholesterol because it causes fat buildup around the arteries that can cause long-term damage to your heart.
Here are HDL and LDL ranges for your reference:
- HDL Low range- > 60 mg/dL
- High range- men: < 40 mg/dL; women: < 50 mg/dL
- LDL Low range- > 160 mg/dL
- High range- < 100 mg/dL
This is another common blood test that analyses your thyroid gland functions. This test checks the thyroid hormone production from the thyroid gland and how it is reacting to fellow hormones. Let us simplify it for you:
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)- This hormone is for the regulation of hormones when the thyroid is released.
Triiodothyronine (T3)- This hormone is responsible for body temperature and heart rate regulation along with T4.
Thyroxine (T4)- This one monitors metabolic functions and your overall growth.
T3 resin uptake (RU)- This monitors if thyroxin-binding globulin is properly binding or not.
Here are the ranges of the thyroid:
- TSH:0.4–4.0 milli-international units per liter of blood (mIU/L)
- T3:100–200 nanograms per deciliter of blood (ng/dL)
- T4: 5.0–12.0 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL)
- T3RU: Is inversely linked to T3
If the levels are abnormal, it could be due to thyroid growth disorders, imbalance of estrogen or testosterone hormones, low protein levels, etc.
Enzymes are very important for the body as these are proteins that conduct various processes including food breakdown, blood clotting, to name but a few. These proteins are utilised to conduct several vital functions and therefore, their levels need to be normal. CPK-1 enzyme is found in the brain and lungs. CPK-2 and CPK-3 enzymes are found in the heart but they have different roles to play. Here are the ranges of CPK:
- CPK-1: 200 units per liter (U/L)
- CPK-2: 5–25 international units per liter (IU/L)
- CPK-3: 200 U/L
- Troponin: < 0.02 ng/mL
How is a blood test performed?
- Firstly, the nurse or lab technician conducting the test would find the nerve from where blood can be drawn.
- Then, he will clean that area of your arm.
- He will securely tie a rubber band on the upper side so that the vein becomes visible.
- Now, he will insert the needle into the vein and draw blood.
- After that, he will place a cotton pad on the area and ask you to fold your arm for a couple of minutes.
There are numerous benefits of blood tests such as:
Diagnosing disease- If any underlying disease is diagnosed on time, it can be prevented and treated. Blood tests can discover many diseases.
Check on metabolism- Regular screening can help in checking your metabolism and whether any marker is below the average levels. Diabetes, thyroid are some conditions that can be easily assessed with blood tests.
Liver function monitoring- The liver is very important as it carries body detoxification. Any issue with the liver can be found out through blood tests.
Checking hormonal levels- For a better functioning body, hormones need to be optimally produced and released. A blood test can monitor them as well.