Why should you have a General Health Panel?
By having a general health panel completed, you will receive an overall picture of your general health status. Each test is designed to inspect key parts of your body and how they are functioning. The focus areas include the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke, the current status of your kidneys and liver function, electrolyte and acid/base balance as well as levels of blood glucose and blood proteins.
Knowing the status of each of these components can provide peace of mind or the need to improve your overall health since abnormal results, and especially combinations of abnormal results, can indicate a problem that needs to be addressed.
What tests are included in a General Health Panel?
- Complete Blood Count
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
- Thyroid Profile
What is a Complete Blood Count?
A complete blood County (CBC) is used to evaluate your overall health and detect a wide range of disorders including anemia, infection and leukemia. A CBC measures several components and features of your blood including:
- Red blood cells, which carry oxygen
- White blood cells, which fight infection
- Hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells
- Hematocrit, the proportion of red blood cells to the fluid component, or plasma, in your blood
- Platelets, which help with blood clotting
Abnormal increases or decreases in cell counts as revealed in a complete blood count may indicate that you have an underlying medical condition that calls for further evaluations.
Why should you have a Complete Blood Count done?
- To review your overall health. Your doctor may recommend a complete blood count as part of a routine medical examination to monitor your general health and to screen for a variety of disorders, such as anemia or leukemia.
- To diagnose a medical condition. Your doctor may suggest a complete blood count if you're experiencing weakness, fatigue, fever, inflammation, bruising or bleeding. A complete blood count may help diagnose the cause of these signs and symptoms. If your doctor suspects you have an infection, the test can also help confirm that diagnosis.
- To monitor a medical condition. If you've been diagnosed with a blood disorder that affects blood cell counts, your doctor may use complete blood counts to monitor your condition.
- To monitor medical treatment. A complete blood count may be used to monitor your health if you're taking medications that may affect blood cell counts.
What is a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel?
A comprehensive metabolic panel is a group of tests that gives important information about the current status of your kidneys and liver, electrolyte and acid/base balance, as well as levels of blood glucose and blood proteins.
What tests are included in a comprehensive metabolic panel?
- Glucose - an energy source for the body; can determine your risk for diabetes or a pre-diabetes condition.
- Calcium - one of the most important minerals in the body; essential for the proper functioning of muscles, nerves, and the heart. It is required for blood clotting and the formation of bones Proteins.
- Albumin - a small protein produced in the liver; the major protein in serum.
- Total Protein - measures albumin as well as all other proteins in serum Electrolytes.
- Sodium - vital to normal body processes, including nerve and muscle function.
- Potassium - vital to cell metabolism and muscle function.
- CO2 (carbon dioxide, bicarbonate) - helps to maintain the body’s acid-base balance (pH).
- Chloride - helps to regulate the amount of fluid in the body and maintain the acid-base balance Kidney Tests
- BUN (blood urea nitrogen) - waste product filtered out of the blood by the kidneys; conditions that affect the kidneys have the potential to affect the amount of urea in the blood.
- Creatinine - waste product produced in the muscles; filtered out of the blood by the kidneys so blood levels are a good indication of how well the kidneys are working Liver Tests.
- ALP (alkaline phosphatase) - an enzyme found in the liver and other tissues, bone; elevated levels of ALP in the blood are most commonly caused by liver disease or bone disorders.
- ALT (alanine aminotransferase, also called SGPT) - an enzyme found mostly in the cells of the liver and kidneys; a useful test for detecting liver damage.
- AST (aspartate aminotransferase, also called SGOT) - an enzyme found especially in cells in the heart and liver; also a useful test for detecting liver damage.
- Bilirubin - waste product produced by the liver as it breaks down and recycles aged red blood cells.
What Is a Thyroid Profile?
A Thyroid Profile is done to find out if your thyroid gland is working the way it should. It can tell you if it is overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism). The test can also detect a thyroid disorder before you have any symptoms. If untreated, a thyroid disorder can cause health problems.
When is it ordered?
A healthcare practitioner may order a Thyroid Profile when someone has symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism and/or when a person has an enlarged thyroid gland (Goiter).
Sign and Symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include:
- Increased heart rate
- Weight loss
- Difficulty sleeping
- Tremors in the hands
- Diarrhea (sometimes)
- Light sensitivity, visual disturbances
- The eyes may be affected: puffiness around the eyes, dryness, irritation, and, in some cases, bulging of the eyes.
Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Cold intolerance
- Puffy skin
- Hair loss
- Menstrual irregularity in women
What is a Lipid Panel?
The lipid panel is used as part of a cardiac risk assessment to help determine an individual's risk of heart disease and to help make decisions about what treatment may be best if there is borderline or high risk.
Lipids are a group of fats and fat-like substances that are important constituents of cells and sources of energy. Monitoring and maintaining healthy levels of these lipids is important in staying healthy. The results of the lipid panel are considered along with other known risk factors of heart disease to develop a plan of treatment and follow-up. Depending on the results and other risk factors, treatment options may involve lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise or lipid-lowering medications.
What does a Lipid Panel test for?
- Total Cholesterol - this test measures all of the cholesterol in all the lipoprotein particles.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) - measures the cholesterol in HDL particles; often called "good cholesterol" because it removes excess cholesterol and carries it to the liver for removal.
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) - calculates the cholesterol in LDL particles; often called "bad cholesterol" because it deposits excess cholesterol in walls of blood vessels, which can contribute to atherosclerosis. Usually, the amount of LDL is calculated using the results of total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides.
- Triglycerides - measures all the triglycerides in all the lipoprotein particles; most are in the very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL).
What other resources are available to learn more about my health and laboratory tests?
- American Heart Association: heart.org
- Lab Tests Online: labtestsonline.org
- WebMD: webmd.com
What should I do if my results are abnormal or out of range?
It is always recommended you meet with a healthcare provider to determine what your laboratory test results mean to you. Your healthcare provider will review all of your test results and, combined with your health history, will be able to provide an accurate picture of your health status.
If any of your results were out of range: If you have one or more tests that are out of range, you should share your results with your healthcare provider. These panels are typically evaluated as a group to look for patterns and only your healthcare provider can fully assess your test results to determine if further testing or treatment is needed.
If your results were within normal range: If all of your basic health screen test components were within normal range, you should follow the screening guidelines for your age and health status. Your physician is best suited to advise you on a timetable for all screening tests.