As we grow older, we start to become warier of a lot of health-related things. We start watching what we eat, the physical activities that we do, and of course, we get more frequent check-ups.
As aging individuals, we have to make sure that we don’t let illnesses rob us of the prime of our lives. Bloodwork is a critical practice that should be incorporated as we grow older because it can tell us a lot of things that can’t be seen from just physical check-ups. They’re essential in evaluating the health of aging individuals. In this article, we’ll be listing down several blood tests that are essential for aging individuals.
CBC (Complete Blood Count)
The Complete Blood Count is one of the most common blood tests out there. It measures your white blood cell count (WBCs), red blood cell count (RBCs), Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, Mean corpuscular volume (MCV), and platelet count.
This test helps diagnose cases of anemia when the RBCs, hemoglobin, and hematocrit are low, and it can also tell if a person is fighting infection by the WBCs. If a person’s platelet count is lower than average, further evaluation by a physician is highly suggested.
This blood test measures the several types of cholesterol and fats in our bloodstream. The cholesterol test can tell the total cholesterol, amount of Triglycerides, Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) known as the “bad” cholesterol, and also high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is also known as the “good” cholesterol.”
These tests are used to evaluate the possible risks for cardiovascular diseases in older adults. Sometimes, when the HDL or LDL rates are abnormal (very high or very low), a change in diet can be prescribed by a physician.
Basic Metabolic Panel (Basic Electrolyte Panel)
Electrolytes are often measured together in 7 to 8 measurements that are commonly referred to as the “chem-7”. This group includes Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Carbon dioxide, Blood urea nitrogen, Creatinine, and Glucose. This test is used to check whether electrolytes like sodium or potassium are too high or low because they might be side effects of medication. Carbon dioxide tests reflect the acidity of the individual’s blood, which can be affected by kidney or lung function problems.
Additionally, Creatinine and BUN Levels are also used to monitor kidney function as they indicate if the kidney function is temporarily impaired if they are high.
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
This is a test similar to the Basic Metabolic Panel, which measures electrolytes but is taken to a higher level. It includes an additional seven items aside from the chem-7, including calcium, total protein, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), Albumin, Bilirubin, and Alkaline phosphatase. Like its derivative, this test is commonly referred to as the “chem-14”.
Calcium levels indicate if there is something wrong with our kidneys, AST and ALT are enzymes in liver cells that, if elevated, indicate problems that affect the liver. Albumin is a critical protein in the bloodstream also synthesized by the liver.
Bilirubin helps in breaking down red blood cells. Lastly, Alkaline phosphatase is found all over the body but is concentrated in bile ducts and bones. A high level of Alkaline phosphatase indicates a possible blockage in the liver.
Aside from these four tests, which are essential for aging adults, there are still quite a lot that are important but should be done with consultation from a physician.
Thyroid function tests like Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and Free thyroxine (Free T4) are used to screen for thyroid disorder. In older adults, especially older women, Thyroid problems are prevalent. If a person is having symptoms like constant fatigue and cognitive difficulties, this test is highly suggested.
Glycated hemoglobin tests like the Hemoglobin A1C is a test that measures Glycated hemoglobin, which is formed in the body when blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, attaches itself to the hemoglobin in red blood cells. If your glycated hemoglobin is higher than usual, this might be indicative of diabetes.
Brain Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) test is an exciting test. Contrary to its name, it checks functions related to the heart and not the brain. If your BNP levels go up, your heart will not be able to pump blood effectively.