10 Important Blood Tests for Adults
Blood tests are an important way of knowing the body’s overall status and getting to underlying problems before they cause complications. These tests are also important in assessing changes in physical health and reflect signs of aging over time. Important blood tests for adults are routine. They are also done before carrying out complicated medical procedures. They serve as important markers to help your doctor assess health risks and to plan further treatment.
However, it might get confusing as to which blood tests to get done, considering there are so many. We'll be discussing a few important questions about blood tests and the most important blood tests for adults.
When Should You Get A Blood Test Done?
A lot of doctors will tell you to get a set of important blood tests every year or will have them done during your general physical exam. But it might be important to get a set of important blood tests for adults done regularly in case you have growing health concerns. Important blood tests for adults help when:
- You already have conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and other chronic illnesses.
- You’re obese, overweight, or live a sedentary life and want to watch out for complications from an unhealthy lifestyle.
- You intend on keeping a check on important parameters via the lab values to help you keep a closer watch on your health.
Important Blood Tests for Adults & Their Lab Values
These are some of the most important blood tests for adults that are recommended on a regular basis. We also talk about important lab values accompanying these tests to help you get a better idea about your test results.
1. Complete Blood Cell Count
This test happens to be one of the most commonly performed laboratory examinations and happens to be some of the most important blood tests for adults. Complete blood counts monitor various parameters like red blood cell count, white blood cell count, platelet count, hemoglobin level, and hematocrit (ratio of red blood cells to blood plasma). The test can be performed for a variety of reasons like-
- Diagnosis: Blood cell counts aid doctors in diagnosing underlying conditions that might be ailing your health. If you’re unable to properly describe your symptoms, or if you’re feeling dull overall, your doctor might order a complete blood count and check the various parameters for anomalies.
- Monitoring Pre-existing Conditions: If you have existing conditions that cause skewed values on your blood counts, your doctor might recommend regular complete blood counts to check if the treatment is working.
- To Improve General Health: You can also get complete blood counts ordered by the doctor during routine physical exams to help you keep watch on your health. It also helps prevent serious illness by catching important deviations in the parameters early on.
Here are important lab values for the complete blood count test:
- Red Blood Cells: Men- 4.32 - 5.72 million cells/ mcL; Women- 3.90 - 5.03 million cells/ mcL
- White Blood Cells: 3500 - 9600 cells/ mcL
- Platelets: Men- 135,000 - 317,000 cells/ mcL; Women- 157,000 - 371,000 cells/ mcL
- Haemoglobin: Men- 13.2 - 16.6 g/dL; Women- 11.6 - 15.6 g/dL
- Haematocrit: Men- 38.3 - 48.6%; Women- 35.5 - 44.9%
Any significant deviations from these values might indicate vitamin and mineral deficiencies, anemia, systemic disorders, infections, cancer, or bone-related conditions.
2. Blood Sugar Tests
Blood sugar levels are important markers for conditions like type-1 & type-2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Blood sugar tests must be included in all routine examinations for middle-aged individuals and are important blood tests for adults in that age group. A high blood sugar indicates the incapability of the pancreas to produce insulin, a low amount of it, or the resistance of the body’s cells to the hormone. Insulin helps transport glucose from the blood into the cells to be used as energy. However, diabetes results in a high blood sugar level and a scarcity of glucose in cells. This results in a variety of complications like delayed healing of wounds, neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy, and might even cause infections in the peripherals. Blood sugar is measured while fasting, before and after meals, at random periods, and during pregnancy. Here are important lab values for blood sugar tests -
- Fasting Blood Sugar: <100mg/dL
- Post-Prandial Blood Sugar (After a meal): <180mg/dL
- Random Blood Sugar: <200mg/dL
Any deviations from these values to the higher side might hint at either pre-diabetes or diabetes. Your doctor will recommend further tests to confirm his diagnosis. In case your blood sugar levels are lower than normal, you may have low blood sugar and your doctor will provide specialized care for the condition as well.
3. Lipid Profile
This test is a very important blood test for adults that are approaching the latter half of their life. The test measures the freely available cholesterol and fats (triglycerides) in the blood. Cholesterols and triglycerides contribute to coronary artery disease and greatly increase the risk of chronic cardiac ailment. The test includes several parameters like total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein level (good cholesterol), low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol), very low-density lipoprotein (worst of all fats due to maximum free triglycerides), and triglycerides. Lipid profiles are included in all physical examinations and for patients at an increased risk of heart disease. Some important lab values for this test are -
- Total Cholesterol: <200mg/dL
- HDL: 60mg/dL or higher, risk of heart disease increases if 40mg/ dL or lower
- LDL: <100mg/ dL
- VLDL: 5 - 40mg/ dL
- Triglycerides: <150mg/ dL
Any anomalies in the values will warrant further advice from your physician, and further testing will ensue to chart out your cardiac risk.
4. Metabolic Panel
A metabolic test determines the function of your kidneys, liver, the pH balance in your blood, bi-products of protein metabolism, and the level of electrolytes in your blood by measuring-
- Sodium, Potassium, Chlorine, Calcium, and other important ions.
- Blood urea nitrogen and creatinine
- Blood sugar
The test gives your doctor an idea about the body’s functioning at the molecular level and helps in hinting at underlying causes for metabolic imbalances. Important lab values for this test are-
- Sodium: 136 - 144 mEq/ L
- Potassium: 3.7 - 5.2 mEq/ L
- Chloride: 96 - 106 mmol/ L
- Calcium: 8.5 - 10.2 mg/ dL
- Blood Glucose: <100 mg/ dL (fasting)
- Carbon Dioxide: 23 - 29 mmol/ L
- Blood Urea Nitrogen: 6 - 20 mg/ dL
- Creatinine: 0.8 - 1.2 mg/ dL
- Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP): 44 - 147 IU/ L
- Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT): 7 - 40 IU/ L
- Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST): 10 - 34 IU/ L
- Bilirubin: 0.3 - 1.9 mg/ dL
- Albumin: 3.5 - 5.4 g/ dL
- Total Protein: 6 - 8.3 g/ dL
Varying values or abnormal values might require further examination with more advanced tests. Skewed values might also indicate underlying chronic conditions or undetected diseases. Contact your doctor if you see abnormal values on your metabolic panel.
5. Thyroid Function Tests
The thyroid is a gland placed snugly in your neck and manages several important functions in the body. Its hormones Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3) have firm control over metabolism, energy consumption, body weight, and mental health. Another hormone, the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone released by the pituitary gland balances the level of T3 and T4 in the blood. T3 resin uptake (RU) is an examination that gives your doctor a picture about how much a protein, thyroxine-binding globulin is binding with T3. High levels of T4 indicates possible hyperthyroidism, while high TSH with low T4 or normal T4 can indicate hypothyroidism. Elevated T4 levels warrant a T3 examination. Higher T3 levels potentially indicate Hyperthyroidism, and possibly Grave’s Disease. T3RU levels above normal can indicate pregnancy, elevated estrogen, or obesity. Low T3RU levels hint at kidney malfunction and poor protein-uptake. It is important to get a check-up if you see varying values in these tests. Here are normal values of thyroid function tests-
- T4: 4.6 - 12 ug/ dL
- T3: 80 - 180 ng/ dL
- TSH: 0.5 - 6 uU/ mL
- T3RU: 23% - 37%
6. C-Reactive Protein Analysis
When the body undergoes inflammation due to injury, toxins, extensive trauma or infections, cardiac disease, autoimmune diseases the liver produces a protein called C-Reactive protein. It is an important blood test for adults, as it serves as a marker for inflammation in the body. It can provide plenty of clues to help your doctor diagnose a serious health condition. A higher C-Reactive protein also raises the stakes of cardiac risk. Here are the important lab values to keep in mind when taking this test-
- Ideal or Low Risk: <1 mg/ L
- Intermediate Risk: 1 - 2.9 mg/ L
- High Risk: >3 mg/ L
- Very High Risk: >10 mg/ L
Visit your doctor for further tests to help you figure out high C-reactive protein levels.
7. Clotting Factors & Coagulation Profile
Clotting factors are important elements in the blood to help stop bleeding in time. There is a complex chain reaction in your body involving various proteins and chemicals that form a blood clot. Clots are important factors in preventing serious complications from blood loss and also aid in the overall healing process. The coagulation tests analyze how quickly your body reacts to bleeding. It is one of the most important blood tests for adults and analyzes factors such as prothrombin time (PT), partial thromboplastin time (PTT), international normalized ratio (INR).
Prothrombin time assesses the blood’s ability to clot. Delayed PT indicates the presence of blood thinners like heparin or warfarin, or vitamin K deficiency. PTT increase is linked with blood thinners and underlying conditions. INR values are more accurate markers of PT tests to make sure your lab’s values are more in line with the international standard. Here are the important lab values for this test-
- PT: 10 - 12 seconds
- PTT: 30 - 45 seconds
- INR: 1 - 2
8. Enzyme Marker Tests
Enzymes are important components of the body’s functioning. They catalyze essential reactions in the metabolic pathways and also help the body create essential products that aid in its functioning. It is an important blood test for adults and commonly checks the levels of these enzymes-
- Creatine Phosphokinase (CPK- 1): This is an enzyme detected in the brain and respiratory system. Normal values of this enzyme are 200 U/ L. Elevated CPK- 1 indicates serious injury or cancer.
- CPK- 2 or CKMB: These are cardiac enzymes and help your doctor confirm if you’ve had a heart attack, cardiac arrest, or injury. Normal values are 5 - 25 IU/ L.
- CPK- 3: These are other cardiac enzymes also indicating heavy exercise, trauma, and heart disease. About 200 U/ L is normal for this enzyme.
- Troponin: This is an enzyme present in the cardiac muscles. An elevation indicates cardiac trauma. Normal values for this marker are less than 0.02 ng/ mL.
DHEA or Dehydroepiandrosterone is an important hormone synthesized by your adrenal gland. It precedes both estrogen and testosterone and is linked to secondary sexual characteristics. The levels of DHEA are elevated in youth and progressively reduce with age. Low levels of DHEA are associated with disease of the adrenal gland, the pituitary gland, low libido, erectile dysfunction, and stunting. High DHEA can be linked to cancer, PCOS, or premature puberty. Important lab values for the hormone are-
- Men: 280 - 640 ug/ dL
- Women: 65 - 380 ug/ dL
10. Screening for STDs
An important blood test for adults with multiple sexual partners is screening for STDs. The test involves screening for various STDs like syphilis, hepatitis B & C, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, and AIDS. It is an essential exam that must be taken up regularly to prevent potentially infecting your sexual partners and to ensure your own sexual and general well-being.
Important blood tests for adults often are simple procedures only involving a blood draw and an analysis of the sample. Most tests usually produce results in a matter of 24 hours. It is important to get a complete physical exam and these 10 important blood tests if you want to ensure comprehensive health for yourself. After all, preventing diseases is far simpler than treating complications arising from them.