Blood Test Types – Regular blood testing could be the difference between adding several years to your life.
It’s a crucial part of maintaining your health as your body changes throughout your life. Blood work is typically done at regular check-ups, but there are several different blood test types to be aware of.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about different blood test types to better take care of your health.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Is a Blood Test?
A blood test is a regular part of health check-ups and multiple diagnostic procedures. By taking your blood, doctors can find several details of what’s in the blood, which can give crucial information about the patient’s health.
Once you get your blood taken, a sample is sent to a laboratory and tested to find different cells and substances. Once they find the concentration of other substances, they can compare those to the standard values.
A few examples of what they can test include:
- Oxygen and carbon dioxide levels
- Fat and cholesterol
- Glucose (blood sugar)
- White and red blood cells as well as platelets
- Minerals like iron, potassium, and calcium
- Vitamins like vitamin D and vitamin B12
- Hormones like estrogen
- Inflammatory markers
- Tumor markers
- Genetic markers
- Drugs and medications
Finding these helps doctors detect signs of infection and health risks, as well as the balance of minerals and fluids in the blood. It also helps assess physical functions.
Some typical diseases and health conditions that can be found through blood tests are cancer, anemia, HIV, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. It can even show people that are at risk of diseases like heart disease before they have it.
Different Blood Test Types
Most people know what a blood test is, but they probably don’t know how many different kinds there are. Each one finds different substances that can indicate different problems in the human body.
Let’s take a look at some different ones.
Complete Blood Count
One of the more common blood tests is a CBC or a complete blood count. This test looks for 10 different compounds in all of the major cells in your blood, including your red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
It measures components like hematocrit, hemoglobin, and red blood cell count.
If any abnormalities are found, it can indicate issues like:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Clotting problems
- Blood cancer
- Anemia (iron deficiency)
- Immune system disorders
After a CBC is taken, if you have any abnormalities, your doctor will conduct more tests and give the patient a diagnosis.
Basic Metabolic Panel
Another important blood test type is a basic metabolic panel (BMP). A BMP checks different substances in the blood, including:
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
This test usually requires patients to refrain from eating anything for 8 hours before they take their blood test, depending on what your doctor is testing for.
Some issues that this test can find signs for include:
- Hormone imbalances
- Kidney disease
If your doctor finds any abnormalities, they will conduct further tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) finds all of the same measurements as a BMP as well as different proteins that have to do with how the liver functions. These include:
- Total protein
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
- Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
- Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
This test can find the same signs that BMP can find, as well as other underlying conditions. These include:
- Gilbert’s syndrome
- Bile duct blockage
- Adverse medication reactions
- Heart conditions
- Liver cancer
- Liver damage
- Gallbladder inflammation
- Paget’s disease
It can also find a few other problems like signs of malnourishment or zinc deficiency.
A lipid panel looks for two types of cholesterol. The first is high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as the “good” cholesterol. The other is low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or the “bad” cholesterol.
HDL is considered good because it gets rid of harmful substances in the blood, which helps the liver break down into waste. LDL, on the other hand, can lead to plaque build-up in the arteries, which is the main cause of heart disease.
This test also requires that you fast for 8 hours beforehand.
Also known as a thyroid function test, a thyroid panel sees how well your thyroid is functioning. It checks the levels of the hormones it produces, like:
- Triiodothyronine (T3)
- Thyroxine (T4)
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
These hormones help regulate things like heart rate, body temperature, metabolism, and hormones.
This can help find conditions like low protein levels, thyroid growth disorders, or abnormal levels of estrogen or testosterone.
Cardiac Biomarkers help track abnormal enzyme levels in the body. These proteins help the body perform functions like clotting blood and breaking down food.
Some enzymes that are tested include:
- Creatine kinase-MB (CK-MB)
- Creatine kinase (CK)
These can help find issues after issues like muscle damage, heart attacks, heart injuries, and more.
Tests for Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Several sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be found in blood samples. Your doctor will usually combine this with other tests like a urine sample or swabs of infected tissue to make an accurate diagnosis.
Some STIs that can be found include:
However, blood tests aren’t entirely accurate immediately after getting a sexually transmitted infection. For example, HIV might not show up for a month after contracting it.
These tests are primarily used to measure how well the patient’s blood clots are. It includes a fibrinogen activity test and a prothrombin time (PT) test.
Clotting is what helps you stop bleeding after experiencing a wound or cut. However, clots can also be deadly if they happen in an artery or vein, as they could block blood from flowing to your heart, brain, or lungs. This is what causes a stroke or heart attack.
A coagulation panel can help diagnose:
- Liver conditions
- Hemophilia (excessive bleeding)
- Vitamin K deficiency
A doctor will perform several other tests to confirm the diagnosis.
DHEA-Sulfate Serum Test
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone that comes from the adrenal glands. DHEA is important for things like body hair growth in men.
Abnormal levels of DHEA can result in things like:
- Adrenal dysfunction
- Addison’s disease
- Ovarian tumor
- Bening or malignant tumor in the adrenal gland
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
High and low levels are checked in this test in both women and men.
C-reactive Protein Test
C-reactive Protein (CRP) is a substance in the liver. It is created when there are inflamed tissues in the body. This can show signs of:
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Inflammation from diabetes
- Inflammation from physical trauma
- Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or Lupus
The higher the level, the higher the patient’s risk of heart disease.
Which Routine Blood Tests Should I Ask About?
Now that you know several different types of blood tests, it can be a bit overwhelming to determine which tests to ask for. But if you’re concerned about any symptoms or illnesses, visit a doctor and they will let you know which blood tests you’ll need.
The most routine blood tests are:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Thyroid panel
- Basic metabolic panel
- Nutrient tests
If you’re at risk of cancer or other diseases like celiac disease, cirrhosis, or stroke, ask for enzyme markers. If you recently had sex without protection or with a new partner, ask for a sexually transmitted infection (STI) test.
How Often Should I Get My Blood Tested?
The number of times you get a physical exam or a blood test depends on your age. Different clinical organizations also have different recommendations, but as a general guideline:
- Ages 18 to 39 should get their blood tested every 5 years
- Ages 40 to 49 should get their blood tested every 2 to 3 years
- Ages 50 and older should get their blood tested every 1 to 2 years
When you get a physical examination, your doctor will decide if you need any extra blood tests.
Generally, once a person hits the age of 20, doctors recommend they begin getting a lipid test once every 5 years to check for heart disease. Those that are more susceptible to heart disease might need more frequent testing.
People with high blood pressure (above 135/80) should get glucose blood tests regularly. Those over the age of 50 should get a fecal occult blood test to check for colorectal cancer every year.
Some other signs that you should get routine blood work done more frequently include unusual, persistent symptoms like weight gain or fatigue. If you want to optimize your health or reduce any risk of disease, getting regular blood work can help as well.
Where Can I Get My Blood Work Done?
There are several places you can get blood tests. Most hospitals have a laboratory to get your blood work done, while outside laboratories have walk-in or appointment options.
Other places include:
- Private laboratories
- Direct access testing
- Home testing
One of the best options is to use mobile phlebotomy services. These convenient testing services have professionals come straight to your door to get your tests done!
If you’re in the Houston area, check out https://phlebotomynetwork.com/mobile-phlebotomy-houston/!
Make sure to see a doctor and see what the best option is for your situation.
Why Do I Need to Fast Before Taking Certain Blood Tests?
When you take a blood test, measures several substances, including proteins, vitamins, and other nutrients. When you eat, it can cause these to spike or drop.
Doctors recommend you fast for up to 12 hours before a blood test to make sure none of these variables affect your results, which makes your test as accurate as possible.
Some tests that require you to fast beforehand include:
- Glucose tests
- Basic metabolic panel
- Kidney function tests
- Cholesterol tests
- Blood sugar tests
- Liver function tests
Don’t take fasting lightly, as it can cause your test to give you inaccurate results, which could lead to faulty diagnoses.
How Long Does It Usually Take to Get Results From My Blood Test Types?
It usually takes anywhere from a few hours to a few days to get the results of your blood work.
A complete blood count, basic metabolic panel, and lipid panel all usually take 24 hours to process. A complete metabolic panel takes anywhere from 24 to 72 hours to process.
This depends on different factors such as where you get tested or how many tests you take.
How to Read Your Blood Test Results
Although most labs report their findings differently, they all include similar components that are required by federal legislation. This includes things like the name of the person who took the blood test, the date, and the doctor who ordered the test.
Let’s take a look at a few of the results you’ll see on your blood test.
Quantitative test result. This will show numbers that represent the quantity of the substances measured. For example, it might show the amount of blood sugar in your blood.
Abnormal markers. Most reports will have certain markers that show if your results have any abnormalities. You might see the letter H that shows that it is high or the letter L to show that it is L. “WNL” is often used to show that your results are within normal limits. Asterisks might be used to direct you toward other comments.
Reference range. Each report should have a reference range that shows what is considered normal for each test.
Maintain Your Health With Regular Blood Work
That’s everything you need to know about the different blood test types. Although your doctor will probably fill you in on everything you need to know, it’s always good to be aware of what is being tested and how it works.
If you want to stay informed and up-to-date about the latest in the medical industry, check out our other articles today!