Understanding your blood

Your blood has a number of functions beyond just flowing through our veins. It delivers oxygen around our body along with removing waste from organs such as the lungs, liver, kidneys, and spleen.

Your blood can be used to test for something in particular, such as a health condition. Or it can be tested to understand how certain changes, be it lifestyle changes or treatment through medication, are having on your general health.

Getting your blood tested can give you a wealth of knowledge on how healthy you are, and give you a better picture of what’s really going on inside your body.

Different types of blood tests

Venous - this is the typical form of blood testing. It is when the blood is taken directly from the vein usually in the arm. This sample collection allows for the widest range of biomarkers to be tested making it the most comprehensive sample collection method.

Finger-prick - this relates to using a lancet to prick your finger so that a sample can be collected. There are some limitations in terms of what can be tested with a finger-prick sample.

Dry spot - similar to a finger-prick test, you prick your finger and drop a few drops of blood onto a dry spot card that dries out the sample ready for processing. This sample collection also has limitations in what it can be tested for.

What blood tests can help detect

Blood tests can help detect a wide variety of things, from knowing what your cholesterol or iron levels are to understanding how your organs are functioning or what your blood sugar levels are, your blood can tell you a lot about your health.

Blood tests are particularly useful with detecting longer-term concerns such as:

Cardiovascular Disease - by testing the factors that may result in heart disease, such as your cholesterol, you get an overview of what areas to focus on to reduce the risk.

Diabetes - knowing your HbA1c, blood sugar level, can give you an indication if you are at risk of developing types 2 diabetes. With the number of people developing type 2 diabetes increasing this is an important test to know before reaching that stage.

Thyroid Function - testing your thyroid gland will give you an indication if your thyroid gland is imbalanced by testing to see if it is overactive or underactive enabling the proper treatment to be advised.

Understanding your blood test results

Depending on the blood test that you arrange your results will be relevant to that. Your results will show you any abnormal ranges alongside when you are at a normal level.

Test reference ranges can vary depending on elements such as age, gender, ethnicity and family history.

Whether you arrange one through your GP or privately, your results will be presented within a reference range and come with commentary and any next steps.

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