Each year we hear many new recommendations about how to optimize our health. This is no surprise that we should get an annual physical. Our primary care physician will generally take some of the recommended blood work at our annual physical. At our physical each year it is important to discuss any blood work you might want to be done before there are any serious symptoms. Early detection is the key to staying healthy.
There are some blood tests that are recommended and the primary care physician does not necessarily conduct these tests. Usually, when we hear ‘Your blood work came back normal, keep doing what you are doing, I will see you again next year for the same tests,’ we think we are doing an excellent job at maintaining our health. If our primary care physician conducts these tests each year, we can catch a disease before it becomes life-threatening.
What are Recommended Annual Blood Tests?
- Chemistry Panel and Complete Blood Count
- Hemoglobin A1C
- Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)
- C-Reactive Protein
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone
Will My Insurance Cover All The Blood Work?
More than likely is no, not all of them. For example, some of the hormone tests, homocysteine, and carborhydrate tests were not covered by my insurance. It is important to have a good conversation with your physician. Let them know you a looking for a baseline and come back next year and check it again. They will love the fact that you are so interested in your health. Every time I have done this during my physical the doctor is impressed.
What Does a Chemistry Panel and Complete Blood Count Say?
The chemistry panel will show doctors what your glucose has looked like for the previous 90 days. It also lets doctors know all of your cholesterol levels and triglycerides. When you take the chemistry panel blood test your doctor will be determining how major systems in your body are functioning.
The complete blood count (CBC) will alarm doctors of any deficiencies in your body. It will also alarm doctors of what the kidney function. When you have this test done the doctor can tell many things and become alarmed before it turns into something serious.
This test looks for the levels of fibrinogen in your system. If you have elevated fibrinogen in your system, you are at a higher risk for heart attack, stroke, and even death. So, to have this test done once per year will help to discover any problems that might be arising within your body.
The hemoglobin A1C test will monitor a patients blood glucose levels for the previous 3 months. This is an important test. This test is regularly administered to those who have both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. However, doctors do not think to monitor blood glucose levels in those patients that do not have diabetes. This test should be done to help prevent diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone. There have been studies that have stated the hormone DHEA is responsible for the sex hormones. If you have low DHEA in your system you could become at risk for many diseases including some cancers. There are supplements for DHEA. However, if you have breast or prostate cancer it is not advisable for you to take the supplements.
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA)
The Prostate-Specific Antigen will test for elevated levels of the antigen. If you have elevated levels of this antigen it could be a sign of prostate cancer. However, it is not a certainty that you will have cancer. This test is recommended for all men over age 50. However, if you are at a high risk for prostate cancer some doctors recommend beginning an annual PSA at age 40.
This is a test that will test for high levels of homocysteine in the patient’s blood. There have been some research that states high levels of homocysteine in the blood can increase the risk of fractures, low cognitive function, and heart disease. This test is recommended beginning at age 40.
What can blood tests detect? This blood test will detect an elevated risk of coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and age-related macular degeneration. (AMD). This test is recommended for anyone who is over age 40. If you are at risk for Type 2 diabetes, AMD, or coronary heart disease because you have a decreased C-Reactive protein you can take supplements to help increase this protein in your system.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
This test will reveal the levels of the thyroid stimulating hormone. This is a hormone that is secreted into the body from the pituitary gland. This test will reveal that the levels of the TSH are in your body. If they are too low this could be a sign of hyperthyroidism. If they are too high, this could be a sign of hypothyroidism. Either hypo or hyperthyroidism could lead to changes in weight and cardiovascular disease. This is one test that is recommended for anyone over the age of 35. The test should be taken every 5 years. If the test is outside of the optimal range, further testing should be done. There are supplements to take. If you suspect your thyroid is not functioning properly, or you have TSH outside of the optimal range, your doctor might prescribe some of these supplements. There are also prescription medications to take.
What Can be Found in a Blood Test?
There are many things that can be found in a blood test. The blood can tell the doctor so much. If you are within range of the blood test that he or she is taking, you will not need to worry about anything further. However, if your blood test shows abnormalities and is not within the optimal range for that test, you will need further testing. You might also need to take supplements or prescription medication.
Diseases Found in Blood Work?
Type 2 Diabetes
As we age we are going to find that we are prone to more illness. Some of these illnesses can be treated and we will go on to live a normal and healthy life. However, we must find the illnesses in time before so they can be treated. These annual blood tests are recommended for anyone aged 40 and older.