Annual physical exams, including blood tests, allow doctors to assess a patient’s risk factors and make plans for their treatments. These tests are known as proactive healthcare because they allow people to become aware of their risks before the onset of diseases. Your doctor can use these results to determine whether you need medication, lifestyle changes, further testing, or nothing at all.
Unfortunately, annual blood tests often leave out important tests that could benefit the majority of patients. Many doctors aren’t even aware that annual blood tests should include these additional panels. Learning about them will help you take charge of your annual care and give yourself the best chance to stop illnesses before they become chronic.
A CBC or complete blood count is one of the most prescribed annual blood tests. This test takes a general snapshot of your body’s processes by analyzing your blood. It can be used to detect disorders of the blood (including anemia), detect infections, and provide an early screening method for cancers that leave blood markers, such as leukemia.
A complete blood count includes the following results:
- Red blood cells
- White blood cells
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
A comprehensive metabolic panel is another commonly ordered annual blood test. It assesses 14 different substances in a patient’s blood to determine their overall metabolic status. Each of these substances plays a role in metabolism and in maintaining the body’s chemical balances. A CMP can be used to detect many chronic illnesses such as diabetes as well as significant imbalances in your body’s energy processes.
The substances measured in a comprehensive metabolic panel include:
- Glucose (blood sugar)
- Albumin (a liver protein)
- Total protein
- ALP, ALT, and AST, which are liver enzymes (alkaline phosphatase, alanine transaminase, and aspartate aminotransferase, respectively)
- Bilirubin (a liver waste product)
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN), a kidney waste product
- Electrolytes (these minerals help your body balance fluids as well as its blood acidity/alkalinity balance and include calcium, sodium, chloride, potassium, and carbon dioxide)
Thyroid panels are not always conducted during annual blood tests. However, this panel assesses the body’s major hormone production, which can influence as well as indicate its likelihood of developing chronic diseases. Most yearly hormone checks only include the hormones TSH and total T4.
A more complete thyroid panel should include six other hormones, including Total T3, Reverse T3, Free T3, Free T4, anti-TPO Ab, and anti-Thyroglobulin Ab. The results of these tests can help doctors evaluate a patient’s risk for diseases of the thyroid, which can impact many bodily systems. More complete thyroid panels should therefore be part of your annual bloodwork.
Inflammatory markers are rarely tested as part of annual bloodwork, but your inflammatory status is a major indicator of many life-altering processes. The results of these markers could explain anything from a patient’s depression to their risk factors for major cardiac events. An elevation of major inflammatory markers could be a problem on its own or a symptom of a deeper issue since inflammation is the body’s main response to disease.
Testing the markers for inflammation, including high sensitivity-C, homocysteine, and reactive protein, can help you make lifestyle changes where it counts. Inflammation could result from allergies, oxidative stress, physical trauma, emotional stress, toxicity in your environment, or even simply a sedentary lifestyle. The only way to identify and address inflammatory issues is to test for the markers that indicate them.
Essential Nutrients Panel
Finally, annual blood work should include a workup on the vital nutrients and minerals that keep your body functioning optimally. Often, these levels are only tested in response to certain symptoms, such as checking for a Vitamin D deficiency once heart problems already surface.
However, an annual nutrient panel can proactively assess your body’s intake of vital minerals and predict as well as prevent these problems before they occur. The most important vitamins that should be checked include Vitamin B12, Iron, Magnesium, and Vitamin D.
Book an Annual Blood Test
Most doctors prescribe annual blood work, but not all blood work is made equal. If you are not regularly tested for major bodily processes like metabolism, thyroid function, and nutrient absorption, you may lack vital information that could help you assess your risk factors for diseases so that your treatment can start as soon as possible. And if your levels are normal, you can still use these tests to get some much-needed peace of mind.
Talk with your doctor about bolstering your annual blood work with these vital tests.
Speedy Sticks is a mobile concierge phlebotomy service that provides at-home blood draws and on-site diagnostic/health screenings for businesses and individuals. These include annual blood tests, which can be performed by one of our specialists. Book an appointment today to complete your exam.
*This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace consulting with a healthcare professional. Please consult with your primary care physician or healthcare provider before engaging in any services offered by Speedy Sticks.
**These are approximations, and experts disagree on some values. Consult your healthcare provider for recommendations suitable for you. It is also important to ensure the levels are given in the same measurements, such as mg/dL, etc.