Every minute, there are a thousand processes happening within our bodies. Whether it’s the heart pumping blood and reaching every cell in our body, our neurons communicating with the central nervous system, the kidneys producing urine, or the liver regulating blood-glucose levels, there is a lot going on. When something is not working as it should, it is not always obvious right away. Regular blood work is one way to look into the body’s processes and immerse oneself into the delicate language of the internal happenings of the body.
As a primary care clinic, Transmountain Primary has its own in-house lab, where blood work can be conducted. And here’s why having regular blood work can help you better understand your body.
Here’s what you should know.
Routine care is a big part of what we do. The keyword is “routine.” For many people, checkups and wellness tests can be anxiety-filled, but they don’t have to be. Regular blood work and blood panels are done routinely to view changes over time. When there are lab results to compare from one, two, or three years, it provides a panoramic view of a person’s health. There are different types of blood tests available. These are designed to catch warning signs of disease or illnesses before symptoms or complications arise.
When performed annually or bi-annually (depending on the tests) over a long enough timeline —and even a short one— real data about changes in your body’s function can emerge.
The Different Types of Blood Work
The blood holds many secrets and there are different tests designed to unlock them. Baseline tests are the same for men and women but can sometimes vary by age. In primary care, a list of the most common blood tests includes:
- A Complete Blood Count (CBC)
- A Basic Metabolic Panel (GMP)
- A Complete Metabolic Panel
- A Lipid Panel
- Vitamin deficiency tests
- Thyroid panel
- Hemoglobin tests (for diabetes patients)
Let’s look at some of these markers a little more closely.
The Lipid Panel — Understanding Your Cholesterol Levels
This test is meant to look at the risk of fatty deposits in your arteries. These markers are important to help determine if you have a risk of developing coronary heart disease. The numbers in this test can show if there are signs of a blocked artery or abnormal results that can be a warning sign because high cholesterol in itself does not cause symptoms, especially early on. With this information, your primary doctor can recommend lifestyle changes to prevent the worsening of these signs.
The test measures the collection of 4 different types of fat in your blood:
- Total cholesterol: A sum of all cholesterol content.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol: This type of cholesterol is what causes the buildup of fatty deposits or plaques in your arteries.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol: This is the type of cholesterol often referred to as the “good type,” because it helps carry away LDL.
- Triglycerides: This refers to a type of fat in the blood. When people consume too much fat, their body stores what it doesn’t use in triglycerides and stores them as fat.
The Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
This blood test focuses on your sugar (glucose) levels, kidney and liver function, electrolyte levels, and overall fluid balance.
Your body uses glucose for energy and thus your glucose levels can tell your primary care physician about how your body is regulating this energy intake. The measurement of electrolytes is about gauging your state of hydration but also the fluid balance throughout your body. Electrolytes are important in your heart function, brain function, and muscle movement. This test can show changes that point to high blood pressure or possible diabetes.
The blood panel also measures a whole other series of metrics including liver enzymes, creatine, and more:
- Blood urea nitrogen
- Carbon dioxide
- Total protein
- Alanine Aminotransferase (liver function)
- Alkaline Phosphatase (liver function)
The Complete Blood Count
This test can also help your primary care doctor know of any abnormalities in the blood and possible conditions. This test measures your blood cells. If you are taking certain medications, a CBC can also be helpful to determine if you are experiencing side effects.
The specifics of the test tell you:
- The total number of white blood cells
- What kind of white blood cells you have or concentration of certain types of white blood cells
- Hemoglobin, or the protein that helps carry oxygen through the blood
- Hematocrit or the concentration f those red blood cells in your blood
This test can provide useful markers or indications of anemia, bone marrow disorders, infections or low immune system, certain types of cancer, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and more.
Ready to Learn More About Your Body? Get Regular Blood Work With a Primary Care Physician You Trust
Whether you’re experiencing mild symptoms or simply want to get proactive about your health, regular blood work is a great way to learn about your body and how it’s working. As part of your annual wellness exam or physical, ask your doctor about what blood panels might be right for you.
It’s the best way to listen to your body. Want to learn more about primary care treatment? Call us today.