Blood can provide many different clues and answers when it comes to figuring out what’s going on within your body at any given time for people of all ages. The results from blood tests sometimes allow doctors to spot potential health issues early, even when there are no noticeable physical symptoms. Other times, blood test results can determine if certain medications are working as expected. For preventive purposes, there are some blood tests that people over 40 should consider having every year.
1. Chemistry Panel and Complete Blood Count
For disease-prevention purposes, a complete blood count (CBC) is often the preferred starting point. This is a type of test that evaluates overall health and monitors the effects of any medications being taken. A CBC also shows whether or not there are any abnormal increases or decreases in cell counts.
2. Hemoglobin A1C
Blood sugar testing with finger pricks only shows glucose levels at the time of the sample is taken. What a hemoglobin A1C test does is provide details of a patient’s blood sugar levels for the past 2-3 months. Such information is especially useful for helping diabetics minimize potential complications associated with this disease. Test results can also determine an individual’s heart disease risk.
A DHEA test looks at levels of a hormone known as dehydroepiandrosterone. Sometimes referred to as the anti-aging hormone, DHEA decreases over time from its peak levels earlier in life. There’s research suggesting sufficient levels of this hormone that’s produced in the adrenal gland may play a role in supporting healthy immune functions, bone density, mood, and overall body composition.
If a blood test shows high levels of homocysteine, it suggests a patient is at a higher risk for bone fractures, issues with poor cognitive functioning, and heart disease. Studies have also linked elevated levels of this amino acid to age-related macular degeneration.
5. C-Reactive Protein
The C-reactive protein is produced by the liver in response to inflammation. High levels of this protein in a blood test suggest there are abnormal processes going on within the body that are triggering an inflammation response. Doctors may use the results of this test to recommend lifestyle changes with diet and exercise a patient can made to reduce their risk of developing coronary heart disease, macular degeneration, and cognitive decline.
While disease prevention is one of the main benefits of proactive blood testing, there are many other potential answers that can be provided with annual screenings. The monitoring levels of sex hormones, for example, can help patients over age 40 identify potential imbalances that may be contributing to unexplained weight fluctuations, depression, or problems with conception. Results from any of these blood tests can also be used to facilitate important conversations between patients and their doctors.