Know the Actual Frequency for All Blood Test
December 5, 2018
December 5, 2018
Know the Actual Frequency for All Blood Test
In this article, we will discuss the most important part of healthcare – lab tests which need collecting blood samples. It is also known as ‘checking all blood test frequency’, ‘doing blood work’ or even ‘ all blood test’. A lot of older adults have gone through this type of test. For example, it is almost impossible to be hospitalized without a blood test and it is the part of emergency room care. We can also do this as an annual exam. The blood test is usually helpful to evaluate several common health issues in aging adults, even though not always.
Fig: Know the Actual Frequency for All Blood Test
For adults experiencing low energy or fatigue, doctors may check for thyroid and anemia among others. A blood test can help check the electrolytes in an older person (as they can be lost by side effect from medicine and by other causes). Blood tests also provide details about kidney function, infection and others. Like most of the medical care, the blood test is usually overused thing. It is often appropriate and a major part to evaluate the healthcare concerns of an older adult.
In older days lab results were reviewed by the doctors and were rarely discussed with families and patients. Today, it has become more common for patients to discuss their results and gain more knowledge about this aspect of health. Both older adults and caregivers should request a copy of lab results and also keep it in their personal health record.
Even though you have concerns about your health or want to see another doctor, you can access this insight about yourself. Now, we are going to discuss and explain all blood tests which are used most commonly for primary medical care.
Common Panels in Lab Testing
CBC is the combination of tests related to blood cells. Usually, it consists of these results:
- Red blood cell count (RBCs) – It records number of RBCs per microliter
- White blood cell count (WBC) – It records number of RBCs per microliter
- Hemoglobin (Hgb) – It records total oxygen-carrying protein in grams per deciliter of blood.
- Hematocrit (Hct) – It is a part of blood made of RBCs.
- Platelet count or Plts – It records amount of platelets (a small cell in blood clotting) per microliter
- Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) – It is the average size of RBCs.
The CBC is also ordering differently. We can classify the WBCs into different subtypes.
CBC test is also using for –
- Diagnosing anemia if RBC count, hematocrit, and hemoglobin levels are lower.
- Usually, the white blood cell count level goes up in case of infection. Some medications like corticosteroids can also increase WBC count.
- If different types of blood cells like white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets, are low, it can be a sign of a bone marrow problem.
- The platelet count of an older person may often be lower than usual (or even higher as compared to normal). Usually, it may need further evaluation.
Basic Metabolic (electrolyte) panel
Even though you can request measuring single electrolyte, it is a lot more common to order electrolytes test a part of 7 to 8 measurements of the panel. It is also known as ‘chem-7’ and basically covers –
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
- Carbon dioxide (CO2)
What is the purpose of using the basic metabolic panel?
- Due to medicinal side effects, electrolytes like potassium or sodium can be either too low or too high. These electrolytes are sometimes monitoring when people take certain medications like diuretics or some blood pressure medications.
- Carbon dioxide levels reflect acidity level of the blood. It can be affected by lung and kidney function. Acid levels in the blood may change due to severe infection.
- BUN and creatinine levels are used most commonly to keep track of kidney function. Both these levels can go up if the function of the kidney is impaired temporarily. For example, by a medication side effect or dehydration, or seriously impaired.
- A lot of medications should dose in a different way if a person has impaired kidney function.
- It is common among older adults to have a mild effect in kidney function.
- These days, laboratories are using creatinine level and age of the patient to estimate the rate of glomerular filtration, which can represent functioning of filtration in kidneys. We also know this as a better measure of kidney function rather than just depending on BUN and creatinine levels.
- Glucose levels show the amount of sugar present in your blood.
Complete metabolic panel
In this panel, all the items that basic metabolic panel covers are included and then includes added seven items. We also know it as ‘chem-14’ panel for this reason. The complete panel also includes the following items along with seven tests in the basic panel –
- Total protein
- Alkaline phosphatase
The complete metabolic panel is also using for the following –
- Usually, calcium levels are controlling by certain hormones and kidneys.
- Low or high blood calcium levels may lead to symptoms, such as cognitive dysfunction and it usually defines the common health problem.
- There are certain types of medications cause this problem.
- Usually, blood calcium levels are not a good choice to determine total calcium stores or calcium intake in the body and bones.
- Albumin is one of the essential proteins in the bloodstream. It is usually synthesized by the liver. Low levels of albumin can show the problem in maintaining albumin in the bloodstream or with the lever. Low albumin levels are also the signs of malnutrition.
- ALT and AST enzymes in liver cells – The high level of these enzymes often indicate the issues relevant to the liver. Medications or different other health conditions can cause this issue.
Lipid panel (cholesterol)
In these tests, different types of cholesterol and fats are measured in the bloodstream. Usually, this panel is consisting the following –
- Total cholesterol.
- HDL or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
- LDL or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or bad cholesterol calculated on the basis of the other three results.
Usually, the Doctors recommend the patients for fasting before blood test to get cholesterol checking. Triglycerides are subject to rising after eating and it may lead to false low LDL cholesterol levels. These tests are often used to determine the risk of cardiovascular disease in older adults. The LDL cholesterol levels are also treating with medications like a statin. Dietary changes also help reduce these levels.
Here are six different types of tests which are ordered more often on older patients –
Tests on the basis of thyroid functioning
These tests screen for thyroid problems or calibrate dosage for medications. Some of the most widely used tests are free thyroxine or free T4 or FT4 and Thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH. Other types of thyroid tests are also ordered in complicated situations. These tests are often ordered for –
- If the older adult is having symptoms which could be based on thyroid disorder, TSH levels should be checked first.
- Thyroid problems are more evident in older women and these are relevant to symptoms like cognitive problems and fatigue.
- If thyroid gland doesn’t make enough of thyroid hormone, TSH must be higher. TSH usually can reflect the determination in your body whether the thyroid hormone is enough or not.
- FT4 is also using to confirm the problem in thyroid hormone in case TSH finding is abnormal.
Hemoglobin A1C – Glycated hemoglobin
It is formed in the body when blood sugar or blood glucose attaches to hemoglobin in RBCs. Glucose normally does the same but if you have more amount of glucose in the blood, your glycated hemoglobin percentage will be higher as compared to normal. The higher average blood sugar level is, the higher percentage of glycated hemoglobin you could have. A result of 6.5% or higher suggests diabetes.
The purposes of hemoglobin A1C test –
- This test is ordered more often to keep track of the blood sugar level of people with diabetes. When blood glucose level is reported at the specific time period, hemoglobin A1C shows how high a blood sugar of the person has been over the past three months.
- HB A1C test can easily use as part of the evaluation for pre-diabetes or possible diabetes.
- It is important for older adults to work with doctors to find out what A1C goal is right. It is usually wise to aim for higher goal among older patients.
Tests on the basis of vitamin B12 levels
These tests measure vitamin B12 serum levels and provide insights on whether the level is right for your body’s needs. It involves two different tests like Methylmalonic acid and Vitamin B12 levels. According to the situation, additional testing may be pursued to find out the cause of deficiency of vitamin levels. These tests are usually ordered for –
- The deficiency of vitamin B12 is common in older adults and may relevant to common issues like memory problems, fatigue, and walking problems.
- Levels of methylmalonic acid in the body are connected with levels of vitamin B12 and it can help confirm the deficiency of vitamin B12. It is very vital to check this if older adult has low vitamin B12 levels.
International Normalized Ratio (INR) and Prothrombin time (PT)
These tests are used to measure the frequency of blood clots. It should repeat regularly if you have been taking warfarin (Coumadin), a kind of blood thinner. The Prothrombin time (PT) is usually conducted for –
- The INR is estimated by the lab on the basis of prothrombin time. The usual goal for INR should around 2.0 and 3.0 in people who are taking warfarin. Warfarin is usually taken by older adults to avoid strokes due to atrial fibrillation. Warfarin is usually prescribing to treat the blood clot in the lungs, legs or any part of the body.
- The prothrombin time is often checked if there are concerns relevant to severe infection, bleeding, or the ability of lever to synthesize clotting.
BNP or Brain Natriuretic Peptide test
Irrespective of its name, BNP levels are usually checked as they are relevant to heart function, not the brain. The levels of BNP usually go up when the heart of the person is unable to pump blood as effectively as it must, i.e. a problem of heart failure. This test is less frequently used and it is the N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide test. This test is mainly used to –
- Check the level of BNP to find out worsening or recent heart failure. It is a common chronic health condition in older adults, which can often go extreme.
- The BNP test may use widely to evaluate an individual who complains shortness of breath. It can cause due to various problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, angina, pulmonary edema, and others. Low BNP level means shortness of breath is unlikely at the moment due to heart failure.
- It is often used to monitor heart failure in the person and its response to treatment.
The ferritin level of the body’s serum is based on iron stores in our body. If iron levels in older person need a further checkup, further tests may be ordered according to the situation. Here are the purposes for this test.
- Ferritin levels are using most commonly to evaluate anemia (low amount of blood cells). Low level of ferritin suggests the deficiency of iron, which is common in anemia. According to the studies, only a third of anemias among older adults is because of deficiencies in iron or other vital aspects. It is vital to confirm the deficiency of iron by checking ferritin or other types of tests, before depending on iron levels to treat anemia in an older person.
- If ferritin levels are on borderline, or if there are other kinds of reasons to concern about the ability of an older person to manage iron.
- Inflammation also affects ferritin levels, which can increase its levels.
There are several other tests that you can order as part of medical care. But the tests covered above are the ones that are asked too frequently.
The Frequency of Blood Tests
Doctors usually ask for getting blood work done more often than not. However, most of us don’t know what all the blood test covers. Lab tests that are ordered will depend most likely on different factors, such as –
- Medical history
- Family history
How often we need blood work?
When there are no blood panels are required during the annual exam, following tests can be ordered –
- A Chemistry Panel
- A Complete Blood Count Test
Having a CBC test can pick early signs of several common disorders like anemia, which can cause listless and tiredness.
Basic metabolic profile tests several elements in the blood, such as
- Blood glucose (or sugar)
- Kidney function
A CMP or complete metabolic profile can screen everything that is done by a basic profile. It is better than other blood tests. It consists of testing –
- Protein levels
- Cholesterol levels
- Liver function
Blood Work in the Twenties
It is important for you to check your cholesterol, especially when you are in your 20s. If you have a normal cholesterol level, you can repeat the test every five years. If you have a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease or have unhealthy levels, you must get the test every year. You should also do test for HIV and blood sugar during your 20s.
You need to maintain healthier living by controlling cholesterol intake, but how would you know if you have high levels of cholesterol? Well, there are no symptoms. So, cholesterol levels checking is the only best way.
It is yet another silent killer which can sneak up on both men and women, with no symptoms and high risk. Hypertension or high blood pressure can make the heart work harder, damage arteries and can cause a lot of health problems. When you measure your blood pressure, the bottom number is diastolic pressure and the top number is systolic pressure.
When testing for diabetes, it is very important to check blood sugar levels. Once you get an insight on your blood sugar levels, you can control over your life if you chose an unhealthy diet which causes obesity. Your heart needs to work harder if you have excess weight and your cholesterol levels and blood pressure may rise. You know these factors cause risks of heart disease. So, managing your weight is important to lower your risk.
After your 20s
You need to know what’s coming to get blood work done as you grow older so you can be ready.
When you reach the thirties
The same tests will repeat that you had by your doctor in your twenties. However, your thyroid function also will be checked in the test. It is very vital to check thyroid function as under-active or overactive thyroid can trigger a huge list of symptoms. Here are some of the thyroid symptoms which may not work properly –
- Weight loss or gain
- Skin issues like eczema
When you reach your forties
Get the same blood work as you did in your 20s, but also add a cardiac blood test to check for risk of stroke or heart disease. This test is important in case of high cholesterol, overweight, or a family history of heart disease. It is highly recommended to go through a cholesterol test if you have a family history.
In your fifties
Along with regular blood tests, also add vitamin D test. It is because around 75% of women have a lack of vitamin D so their bones are at risk. Chronic deficiency of vitamin D can also cause the risk of breast cancer and other issues.
Why you should go for a regular blood test?
Getting regular blood work is important to lead a healthy life. With the results from the all blood test, the doctor can determine how well your body is functioning, including the health of your liver, kidneys, heart, and thyroid. Blood tests can also detect some diseases like HIV, Cancer, Diabetes, Anemia, and certain heart diseases.
What we can expect?
Before doing the test
Usually, a blood test takes only a couple of minutes. When most of us don’t need any special kind of preparation some blood tests need fasting. If you have to fast before blood work, you shouldn’t eat for around 8 to 12 hours before the blood test. You may ask your doctor for all blood test.
Usually, blood drawing is possible from a vein in arm with a needle. Some tests just need pricking the finger. Some people feel nervous about the needle, while some just may scare of seeing the blood. Look away when blood is drawing if it happens to you.
Just after drawing the blood, you are asked to apply pressure lightly with gauze where the needle was put to stop the bleeding. Keep a bandage on the area for hours. You may get results within minutes or a few days according to the type of test. Some tests even take a few weeks.
Use Lab Me Analytics for Accurate Measurements
Lab Me Analytics is the fastest and most accurate way to interpret all blood test results as it works on machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms. It is really helpful for both physicians and patients.
Harvard Disruptive Innovation Class of '18, MIT Sloan Business School Artificial Intelligence & Its Implications In Business.