Monday, August 22, 2016

It’s in the Blood

Regularly scheduled health screenings are important, especially as you grow older. An annual blood screening is one of the most important components for prevention of degenerative diseases. Blood tests, if the right tests are done, and done correctly, serve as a snapshot of your current health, and these tests can detect potential health problems sooner in their progression. Early detection can result in a more effective plan to manage the health concern, whether that be taking preventative measures, eliminating the concern, or adjusting your lifestyle to live with the condition. More than half the information in the average patient’s medical chart comes from diagnostic test results, including blood tests.

What I mean by “the right tests are done, and done correctly” is that there are a large variety of blood tests available. So in order to benefit from the results of a blood test, you need to be sure that your doctor is requesting the right one. Most doctors require only minimal testing for their patients, mainly to monitor the more common health concerns such as cholesterol, blood sugar levels, liver and kidney function, and blood cell count and size. However, as we grow older we need to focus on more than just the vitals to prevent potential life threatening illnesses and disease.

Men and women both need to monitor hormone imbalances, memory impairment, bone loss, weight gain or loss, and mental state. A lot of the common illnesses and diseases related to aging can be slowed down and prevented through early detection. Early detection can be accomplished through more extensive blood tests. Most tests for men and women are basically the same. However, there are certain tests that should be considered that are more gender specific.

I don’t think it’s my place to specifically breakdown each blood test that is available, including the more common ones. I’m not a physician nor a scientist, nor am I an expert in this field by any means. I can give you my recommendations based on the tests I have taken, and I can list some that I have found in my research that may be of interest to you in determining what is needed for your personal health checklist.

Ever since I turned fifty, I have had the need to pay closer attention to my hormone levels and my bone density. My family has a medical history of osteoporosis. Therefore, it is important to me and to my doctor to regularly check my levels, including bone density. Prevention is key here. Osteoporosis does not have to be a common disease for the elderly. It can be prevented or prolonged. Through additional blood tests, I have discovered that I have a thyroid issue. It appears through blood tests that the concern has been diagnosed early enough that hopefully through time I will be able to better manage my thyroid health and slow the damaging effects of this issue considerably. Look for future articles on this topic.

Here's a basic list of components to be tested for:
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
    • Red blood cells (RBC)
    • White blood cells (WBC)
  • Chemistry Panel
    • Cardiovascular
    • Endocrine
    • Hepatobiliary
    • Kidney
  • Hormone Levels
    • Total and Free Testosterone
    • Progesterone (Female Specific)
    • Prostate-Specific Antigen; PSA (Male Specific)
    • DHEA-S
    • Estradiol
    • Homocysteine
    • Cardio C-reactive protein (CRP)
Part of having a blood test performed correctly is being appropriately prepared for the test. Before the blood test screening, be sure to inform your doctor of any medications, supplements, and vitamins (herbs or other) that you are taking. Your doctor will inform you which items you may have to forgo for the testing purposes and which ones will not affect the blood test results. It’s best to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet in plenty of time before your scheduled blood test to get the best results. Also, do not drink alcohol or engage in any non-prescribed substances prior to the blood test. If the blood test is considered a “fasting” blood test, then it is recommended not to eat or drink anything at least 12 hours or more before the test. However, continue to drink water unless otherwise directed by your doctor.  Always check with your doctor prior to the blood test to know how to properly prepare for the most accurate results.

I hope you found this article informative and easy to understand. I hope you investigate further what the best blood tests and medical screenings are for you and include them in your healthy checklist to refer back to time and time again.

Article References:

The Lifesaving Benefits of Annual Blood Screening, by Penny Baron. May 2005. Life Extension Magazine.

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