07 Mar Top Five Blood Tests for Women
Although you may seem to believe you are in perfect health, it is important for every woman to get blood tests done regularly. It’s the same reason you get your car a tune-up – to make sure everything is working right under the hood. Blood tests gauge how well your body is functioning and if you have been suffering from a disease such as diabetes or heart disease without perceiving the symptoms. For women, there are five blood tests believed by medical professionals to be the best for diagnosing any deficiencies or diseases.
Basic Metabolic Panel
A basic metabolic panel (or BMP) is comprised of eight separate tests that provide insight as to your body’s fluid balance, levels of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, and kidney function. The eight tests are:
1 – Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN): BUN is a waste product filtered by the kidneys. If you come up with an elevated BUN figure, that may indicate abnormal kidney function, liver disease or heart failure. A lower number may tell you that you are suffering from malnutrition.
2 – Creatinine: Creatinine is a waste product produced in the muscles and filtered out of the blood by the kidneys, that indicates how well your kidneys are functioning. A high value would indicate a decrease in kidney function, whereas a low value would point to low muscle mass or malnutrition.
3 – Sodium: Sodium, one of the major salts in the body’s fluid, is important for the water balance and nerve and muscle function. A high value would point to a major issue, such as kidney dysfunction, dehydration, or Cushing’s syndrome, whereas a low value would indicate the use of diuretics, diarrhea or adrenal insufficiency.
4 – Potassium: Potassium is important for cell metabolism and muscle function. A high value can mean a host of issues, including kidney failure, Addison’s disease, diabetes or dehydration. A low value means you use diuretics or corticosteroids.
5 – Chlorine: Chlorine regulates the amount of fluid in your body. A high value indicates dehydration, Cushing’s syndrome or kidney disease, while a low value means you may be suffering from emphysema or kidney disease.
6 – Carbon Dioxide: Your carbon dioxide levels determine your electrolyte levels. A high level indicates lung disease, while a low level indicates kidney disease, toxic exposure or severe infection.
7 – Calcium: Calcium is vital for the development of healthy bones and teeth, as well as function of the muscles, nerves and blood clotting. A high value means you may suffer from kidney disease, hyperparathyroidism, cancer or excessive vitamin D intake. A low value can mean you have a deficiency of calcium, magnesium or vitamin D, malnutrition, pancreatitis, or neurological disorders.
8 – Glucose: Glucose is the body’s main energy source. A glucose test is used to determine if your body is maintaining a constant level of glucose. Drastic fluctuations in that level may indicate diabetes.
A lipid test checks your cholesterol levels. This is important because cholesterol can clog your arteries, which can lead to heart disease or stroke. This test involves inserting a needle into a vein in your arm. The vein will collect a small sample of blood that will be collected into a tube and sent to a lab for testing. Although the test can be done at any time, it is recommended that you fast for the eight to 12 hours before the test.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, healthy adult women should have their first lipid test at age 45. If you are at a health risk, have a certain disease (diabetes, heart disease, stroke or high blood pressure), or have a family history of heart disease, it should be done earlier. If your test comes back within normal range, you should be checked again in five years. If not, your doctor will direct you on the diet and lifestyle changes you should make to correct the issue.
Vitamin D Test
The main function of a vitamin D test is to screen for and monitor bone disorders. For people with chronic illnesses – such as asthma, psoriasis, and certain autoimmune diseases – it is used to check vitamin D levels and ensure you have aren’t suffering from vitamin D deficiency. The causes of low vitamin D may be a lack of exposure to the sun, dark skin, obesity, etc. Someone suffering from a vitamin D deficiency might show symptoms such as bone weakness, bone softness, bone malformation (in children) and fractures. Your healthcare provider will order a vitamin D test if you are at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. Some factors that may put you at that risk are bone disorders (such as osteoporosis), gastric bypass surgery, older age or difficulty absorbing fat in your diet.
Complete Blood Count Test
A complete blood count (also known as CBC) test measures the cells that make up your blood: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Your doctor may order a CBC to check for anemia, determine if you have another health issue that can explain symptoms, keep an eye on an already-existing blood condition or to monitor how medications or treatments are affecting your blood.
A CBC test can measure the following:
• White blood cells (WBCs): WBCs help stave off infection. Your white blood cell count tells you how prepared your body will be at fighting infection.
• Red blood cells (RBCs): RBCs deliver oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body.
• Hemoglobin (Hb/Hgb): A protein in your body that holds oxygen.
• Hematocrit (Hct): The value of the hematocrit tells you how much of your blood is comprised of red blood cells.
• Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV): The average size of your red blood cells.
• Platelets: Aid your blood with clotting.
A hypothyroidism test is used only on people who suffer from hypothyroidism, a disease caused by an underactive thyroid. Hypothyroidism means that you have low thyroid levels, and you will need medication to correct the issue. The test results serve as a blueprint for treatment. They tell your doctor what the right dose of synthetic thyroid hormone medication you should be prescribed and track how well the medication is working. Medication can take several weeks to take effect, so you will need to follow the prescribed doses for six to 10 weeks, then return for another thyroid blood test to learn what adjustments are necessary.
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