There’s a lot you can learn about your health from a small blood sample — that’s why blood testing is a basic component of annual wellness exams and pre-work physicals; it’s also a key diagnostic tool for many common health concerns and symptoms.
Here at American River Urgent Care in Orangevale, California, we offer comprehensive blood testing services at our walk-in clinic’s on-site lab. Let’s explore when you might expect a blood test to be part of your visit, and what it can reveal about your health.
Understanding blood tests
Blood testing allows your doctor to measure and evaluate cells, proteins, chemicals, and other substances in your blood that provide key information about specific aspects of your health.
Blood work isn’t done to gain a comprehensive portrait of your health; instead, it’s conducted with distinct goals in mind. A simple blood test can be used to:
- Help diagnose certain chronic illnesses and conditions
- Monitor chronic disease progression or improvement
- Evaluate organ function (heart, liver, kidneys, thyroid)
- Help identify a suspected bleeding or clotting disorder
- Determine if your immune system is working properly
As one of the most conducted lab tests, blood work is part of many regular physical exams and new hire/pre-employment physicals. It’s also a go-to diagnostic test for a wide range of health concerns and unexplained symptoms.
Common types of blood tests
Your blood can be tested in a variety of ways, depending on your health needs and general reasons for having blood work. Common blood tests include:
Complete blood count
A complete blood count (CBC) is often included as part of a regular checkup. It measures the various components in your blood, including red and white blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin and hematocrit levels. Anomalies in these blood components can indicate anemia, infection, cancer, or an immune system disorder, among other things.
Basic metabolic panel
Also included in most routine physicals, a basic metabolic panel is a group of tests that checks the levels of certain substances in your blood, including glucose, calcium, electrolytes, and waste products.
A metabolic panel provides important information about your body’s chemical balance and metabolism that help your doctor gain better insight into how well your heart, kidneys, liver, and other organs are working.
Also called a lipid profile or a lipid panel, this test provides readings on the amount of total cholesterol, “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides that are circulating in your blood.
Your cholesterol and triglyceride levels offer insight into your risk of atherosclerosis (blood vessel blockages) and coronary heart disease. In most cases, you need to fast for 9-12 hours before having your blood drawn for a lipoprotein panel. It’s often done in conjunction with your annual physical.
Blood enzyme tests
Enzymes are substances that help control chemical reactions in your body. Most blood enzyme tests are conducted to check for higher-than-normal levels of troponin and creatine kinase (CK), which are known indicators of heart muscle damage or a previous heart attack.
Blood enzyme testing can also be used to help diagnose unexplained symptoms like persistent muscle pain and weakness, balance problems, and chronic numbness or tingling.
Also known as blood clotting tests, this panel checks the proteins in your blood that affect the clotting process. Abnormally high or low coagulation protein levels can reveal if you’re at risk of excessive bleeding or developing dangerous clots in your blood vessels.
What to expect from blood testing
To obtain a small blood sample for testing, we perform a quick blood draw from an arm vein with a technique known as venipuncture. Using a thin needle to access your vein and a narrow tube to deposit your blood into one or more small vials, the entire process takes less than 5 minutes.
While blood testing can provide invaluable insight into many aspects of your health, it doesn’t always give complete information about worrisome symptoms or possible health conditions. If your blood work reveals a concern, you may need more tests to pinpoint the problem.
To learn more about the blood testing services at American River Urgent Care or schedule a visit with our seasoned team of family and occupational medicine experts, call 916-238-5469 today, click online to book an appointment at your convenience, or stop by our Orangevale office any time during normal business hours.