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Annual bloodwork: 6 test results your doctor will check – and why

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Annual bloodwork: 6 test results your doctor will check – and why

Just a few vials of blood can tell your care provider more about your health than you might think.
Blood tests can answer questions about your risk for some diseases, whether your organs are functioning correctly and whether you may need to take vitamins to supplement your diet.
Annual bloodwork usually starts for patients at age 30 to 35, says Paige Weaver, a physician assistant who offers care at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Garden City and Murrells Inlet.
“People are pretty receptive to bloodwork and get it annually,” Weaver says. “But for those who are hesitant, I always remind them there are issues we can catch early even if you aren’t feeling any symptoms yet. Then, we can manage your condition before it progresses into something more serious.”
Here are six things that care providers usually look for when ordering blood work:

Complete blood count

A complete blood count measures red and white blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin and hematocrit. Typically, the primary goal of a complete blood count is to examine overall health, identify conditions such as anemia and leukemia and investigate potential causes for weakness, fever, fatigue and other conditions a person may be experiencing. If you are taking certain medications or undergoing treatment, your care provider may keep a close eye on your complete blood count.

Comprehensive metabolic panel

This test measures 14 different components in your blood to provide important information about metabolism and the balance of chemicals in your blood. The test examines kidney and liver function and whether you’re at risk of diabetes.
It will measure your blood sugar levels, your electrolyte levels and the presence of other nutrients like sodium, potassium and calcium.
“Unless your kidney or liver function is drastically low, you may not feel any symptoms,” Weaver says. “Blood tests can help us identify concerns before you even feel symptoms.”

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Cholesterol panel

Also known as a lipid panel, this test examines the levels of two types of cholesterols in your blood: high-density and low-density cholesterol.
To help minimize your risk for cholesterol buildup, the target ranges for cholesterol are:

    • 100 mg/dL for LDL cholesterol
    • 60 mg/dL or greater for HDL cholesterol
    • 200 mg/dL or less for total cholesterol (including HDL and LDL cholesterols)

Thyroid levels

Your thyroid is a gland that produces hormones and regulates bodily functions such as your metabolism, mood and energy levels. Blood tests measure the presence of different types of hormones produced by the thyroid. Abnormal levels can be indicative of thyroid disease.

Prostate-specific antigen

Men can be tested for the levels of prostate-specific antigen in their blood. This is a protein produced by the prostate; elevated levels can indicate whether someone may have prostate cancer. Levels can vary between patients and over a patient’s lifetime, but generally the higher the level, the greater the risk for prostate cancer.

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Vitamin levels

A vitamin blood profile test is used to identify vitamin deficiencies. For example, many people are deficient in vitamin D, which helps your body use calcium to support bone health and plays a role in the immune system and other key bodily functions.
“Like with many of these tests, checking vitamin levels can give us an early indication that something may be amiss so we can take steps to address it,” Weaver says. “That’s one of the reasons why preventive care is so important to maintaining good health.”

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