Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hyperthyroidism. These are words we dread to hear from a doctor, or about a loved one. When we hear these words, we know we’re in for a fight.
But what if we encounter these words not as catastrophes, but as warnings? What if we figure out the risks beforehand? Then we can take easier, more proactive steps to reduce our likelihood of serious illness.
A simple blood draw, combined with the right set of blood tests, can be a powerful tool to understand your future health and help you take steps now to avoid dreaded diseases. The following tests are all inexpensive and easy to schedule, and this is just a small list of all the screenings offered. See full list.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
A CBC test gives you baseline numbers for key factors in your blood such as red blood cells (which carry oxygen), white blood cells (which fight infection), and platelets (which aid in wound healing). The CBC can help to detect disorders in the blood such as anemia, leukemia, and infection. If the test finds signs of anemia, you may be able to treat it easily by boosting your dietary iron and B12, or through the use of supplements.
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) or General Chemistry Panel
It may sound more like a set of spaceship controls than a blood test, but a CMP is really a set of smaller tests that doctors use to check your organ function and look for conditions like diabetes, liver and kidney disease, and check risk factors for heart disease. Your doctor can use the results from this test to determine areas of concern and determine other tests that may be called for.
A lipid panel helps to evaluate your risk factors for hardened arteries and heart disease, and looks for high levels of fats and other lipids in the blood, which may point to coronary artery disease. If the lipid panel says your cholesterol levels are off, you may be able to address your risk through diet, exercise, or cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)
The PSA test measures the presence of a protein produced by the prostate gland. The PSA level is often elevated in men with prostate cancer. While the presence of elevated PSA does not always indicate prostate cancer, tracking a patient’s levels over time can be useful in determining his risk for this disease.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and Free T-4
These thyroid tests are used to determine thyroid function and to screen for overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Lifestyle changes (such as stress-reduction and better sleep) may help if the test finds evidence of a thyroid problem. Beta-blocking drugs and hormone replacement therapy may also be called for.
How Do I Arrange These Tests?
Hancock Regional Health Health can help you schedule these screenings. And your doctor can help you understand the results and recommend other tests that may be called for. He or she can also recommend simple changes you may be able to make—via lifestyle adjustments or medication—that may help to reduce the risks you may find.
These days, understanding and taking control of your health is easier than ever. Staying on top of your ongoing health and learning all you can about your options goes a long way.