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What can blood tests detect?
The answer to that question depends largely upon the blood tests ordered. However, in general, blood tests look for or measure specific markers that provide information that help medically evaluate a person’s health status.
- Discover proteins, bacteria, antigens or other substances that indicate various infections, diseases or cancers.
- Measure levels of critical hormones to assess the function of glands, organs and bodily systems.
- Measure the blood level of certain body chemicals to assess the health of the heart and circulatory system.
- Analyze and measure blood cells to detect conditions like anemia and other blood-related diseases and conditions.
- Assess nutritional status, measuring levels of essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
- Screen for and/or monitor diabetes and other metabolic syndromes.
- Detect genetic issues that threaten or directly impact health, among many other detection purposes.
How long does it take for a blood test result?
This depends to a great extent on the specific blood test ordered. It also depends upon the lab that will be processing your blood sample and compiling your tests results. Here at Health Testing Centers, most blood test results are delivered directly to the patient within one or two business days, although there are a few specific tests that can take slightly longer to complete.
What do abnormal blood test results mean?
While this varies according to the specific test or tests done, blood tests results generally display their findings of the targeted markers as compared to a normal range. An important thing to consider as you go over blood test results is that there is a reason that normal is expressed as a range, rather than an absolute number; No two people have the exact same normal. This natural variation among individuals is the reason that routine blood testing is recommended, because it works to establish your own personal baseline on important health markers – a baseline that can be compared to newer results year after year to track any changes in your health status.
So the bottom line is that abnormal test results may, depending upon the specific test, be cause for concern, especially if you are displaying other signs and symptoms of health issues or have tested cancerous, or they may simply be natural variations or prompted by diet, medications or other factors, rather than indications of ill-health. The exception to this rule are blood tests that give clear positive or negative results for the presence of disease-related markers – specific bacteria or viruses, for instance. For that reason, discussing your results with a healthcare provider or testing professional is a necessary component of the testing process.
What are some of the most important blood tests for overall health maintenance?
Regular blood testing is an essential component of good health maintenance, since it can detect health issues in their earliest, most treatable stages. Screening tests that are important for the average person to have regularly to ensure health and well-being include:
- Complete Blood Count – This test evaluates blood composition, measuring red and white blood cells, hematocrit, hemoglobin and platelets. This is important for detecting issues like anemia and other blood disorders, as well as infections, among other purposes.
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel – This blood test examines a number of components in the blood, including electrolytes, glucose, enzymes and proteins, that provide information on the function of critical organs, such as the kidneys, liver and pancreas.
- Hemoglobin A1C (HgbA1c) – Measures the average amount of glucose in the blood over the previous 2 to 3 months, making it an essential tool for screening for or monitoring diabetes and related metabolic conditions.
- Lipid Profile – Measures levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood to help assess vascular health and heart disease risk.
- Thyroid Function Panel – A blood test that measures levels of essential thyroid hormones, including TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), T3 and T4, this tests helps evaluate overall thyroid function for the detection of thyroid disorders.
- C-Reactive Protein Highly Sensitive (hs-CRP) – This test helps detect inflammation that can be related to atherosclerosis, a major risk factor for heart disease.
- Homocysteine test – Since high levels of homocysteine in the blood are a risk factor for heart disease, this test helps evaluate heart health.
- Men Only: Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) – Measures levels of PSA in the blood, a protein produced by the prostate gland. High levels of PSA can signal the presence of conditions that include enlarged prostate, prostate inflammation, or prostate cancer.
These are general recommendations suitable for the average person in good general health. If you have specific health issues or are at greater than average risk for certain diseases or conditions, your personal healthcare team has likely recommended a more personalized routine of regular tests, screenings and assessments.