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  What Are Blood Tests?Blood tests help doctors check for certain diseases and conditions. They also help check the function of your organs and show how well treatments are working.Specifically, blood tests can help doctors:!aluate how well organs such as the kidneys, li!er, thyroid, and heart are working#iagnose diseases and conditions such as cancer, $%&'A%#S, diabetes, anemia (uh)*)me)eh+,and coronary heart diseaseind out whether you ha!e risk factors for heart disease-heck whether medicines youre taking are working Assess how well your blood is clotting/!er!iewBlood tests are !ery common. When you ha!e routine checkups, your doctor may recommend blood tests to see how your body is working.0any blood tests dont re1uire any special preparations. or some, you may need to fast (not eat any food+ for 2 to 34 hours before the test. 5our doctor will let you know how to prepare for blood tests.#uring a blood test, a small sample of blood is taken from your body. %ts usually drawn from a !ein in your arm using a needle. A finger prick also might be used.The procedure usually is 1uick and easy, although it may cause some short)term discomfort. 0ost people dont ha!e serious reactions to ha!ing blood drawn.6aboratory (lab+ workers draw the blood and analy7e it. They use either whole blood to count blood cells, or they separate the blood cells from the fluid that contains them. This fluid is called plasma or serum.The fluid is used to measure different substances in the blood. The results can help detect health problems in early stages, when treatments or lifestyle changes may work best.#octors cant diagnose many diseases and medical problems with blood tests alone. 5our doctor may consider other factors to confirm a diagnosis. These factors can include your signs and symptoms, your medical history, your !ital signs (blood pressure, breathing, pulse, and temperature+, and results from other tests and procedures./utlookBlood tests ha!e few risks. 0ost complications are minor and go away shortly after the tests are done.Types of Blood TestsSome of the most common blood tests are: A complete blood count (-B-+Blood chemistry testsBlood en7yme testsBlood tests to assess heart disease riskBlood clotting tests  -omplete Blood -ountThe -B- is one of the most common blood tests. %ts often done as part of a routine checkup.The -B- can help detect blood diseases and disorders, such as anemia, infections, clotting problems, blood cancers, and immune system disorders. This test measures many parts of your blood, as discussed in the following paragraphs.8ed Blood -ells8ed blood cells carry o9ygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Abnormal red blood cell le!els might be a sign of anemia, dehydration (too little fluid in the body+, bleeding, or another disorder.White Blood -ellsWhite blood cells are part of your immune system, which fights infections and diseases. Abnormalwhite blood cell le!els might be a sign of infection, blood cancer, or an immune system disorder. A -B- measures the o!erall number of white blood cells in your blood. A test called a -B- with differential can measure the amounts of different types of white blood cells in your blood.lateletslatelets (6AT)lets+ are blood cell fragments that help your blood clot. They stick together to seal cuts or breaks on blood !essel walls and stop bleeding. Abnormal platelet le!els might be a sign of a bleeding disorder (not enough clotting+ or a thrombotic disorder (too much clotting+.$emoglobin$emoglobin ($)muh)glow)bin+ is an iron)rich protein in red blood cells that carries o9ygen.  Abnormal hemoglobin le!els might be a sign of anemia, sickle cell anemia, thalassemia (thal)a)S)me)ah+, or other blood disorders.%f you ha!e diabetes, e9cess glucose (sugar+ in your blood can attach to hemoglobin and raise the le!el of hemoglobin A3c.$ematocrit$ematocrit (hee)0AT)oh)crit+ is a measure of how much space red blood cells take up in your blood. A high hematocrit le!el might mean youre dehydrated. A low hematocrit le!el might mean you ha!e anemia. Abnormal hematocrit le!els also might be a sign of a blood or bone marrow disorder.0ean -orpuscular &olume0ean corpuscular (kor);S)kyu)lar+ !olume (0-&+ is a measure of the a!erage si7e of your red blood cells. Abnormal 0-& le!els might be a sign of anemia or thalassemia.Blood -hemistry Tests'Basic 0etabolic anelThe basic metabolic panel (B0+ is a group of tests that measures different chemicals in the blood. These tests usually are done on the fluid (plasma+ part of blood.The B0 can gi!e doctors information about your muscles (including the heart+, bones, and organs (such as the kidneys and li!er+.The B0 includes blood glucose, calcium, electrolyte, and kidney function tests. Some of these tests re1uire you to fast (not eat any food+ before the test, and others dont. 5our doctor will tell you how to prepare for the test(s+ youre ha!ing.  Blood <lucose<lucose is a type of sugar that the body uses for energy. Abnormal glucose le!els in your blood might be a sign of diabetes.or some blood glucose tests, you ha!e to fast before your blood is drawn. /ther blood glucose tests are done after a meal or at any time with no preparation.-alcium-alcium is an important mineral in the body. Abnormal calcium le!els in the blood might suggest kidney problems, bone disease, thyroid disease, cancer, malnutrition, or another disorder.lectrolyteslectrolytes are minerals that help maintain fluid le!els and acid)base balance in the body. They include sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, and chloride. Abnormal electrolyte le!els might be a sign of dehydration, kidney disease, li!er disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, or other disorders.=idney unctionBlood tests for kidney function measure le!els of blood urea nitrogen (B;*+ and creatinine (kre) AT)ih)neen+. Both of these are waste products that the kidneys filter out of the body. Abnormal B;* and creatinine le!els might suggest a kidney disease or disorder.Blood n7yme Testsn7ymes help control chemical reactions in your body. There are many blood en7yme tests. This section focuses on blood en7yme tests used to help diagnose a heart attack. These tests include troponin and creatine (=8)ah)teen+ kinase (-=+ tests.TroponinTroponin is a protein that helps your muscles contract. When muscle or heart cells are in>ured, troponin leaks out, and its le!els in your blood rise.or e9ample, blood le!els of troponin rise when you ha!e a heart attack. or this reason, doctors often order troponin tests when patients ha!e chest pain or other heart attack signs and symptoms.-reatine =inase A blood product called -=)0B is released when the heart muscle is damaged. $igh le!els of -=)0B in the blood can mean that you!e had a heart attack.Blood Tests To Assess $eart #isease 8isk A lipoprotein panel is a blood test that can help show whether youre at risk for coronary heart disease (-$#+. This test looks at substances in your blood that carry cholesterol. A lipoprotein panel gi!es information about your:Total cholesterol.6#6 (bad+ cholesterol. This is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockages in the arteries. (or more information about blockages in the arteries, go to the $ealth Topics  Atherosclerosis article.+$#6 (good+ cholesterol. This type of cholesterol helps decrease blockages in the arteries.Triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood. A lipoprotein panel measures the le!els of 6#6 and $#6 cholesterol and triglycerides in your  blood. Abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride le!els might be signs of increased risk of -$#.0ost people will need to fast for @ to 34 hours before a lipoprotein panel.Blood -lotting TestsBlood clotting tests sometimes are called a coagulation (=/)ag)yu)6A)shun+ panel. These tests check proteins in your blood that affect the blood clotting process. Abnormal test results might suggest that youre at risk of bleeding or de!eloping clots in your blood !essels.5our doctor may recommend these tests if he or she thinks you ha!e a disorder or disease related to blood clotting.Blood clotting tests also are used to monitor people who are taking medicines to lower the risk of blood clots. Warfarin and heparin are two e9amples of such medicines.
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