A blood test can be an invaluable tool to diagnose a health problem that may just save a life. So what are some blood tests that every woman should have?
Heart disease is a major concern for women. Womenshealth.gov noted that for every woman that dies in the United States each year, one in four of them dies from heart disease. Several factors can contribute to heart disease, including high blood cholesterol, which clogs a person’s arteries.
A total cholesterol test measures all of the cholesterol in a person’s blood and can identify if a person is at risk. If the cholesterol test comes back between 200 and 239 mg/dL, the person’s total cholesterol level is borderline high. A total cholesterol test reading of 240 mg/dL or higher is considered high risk.
Sexually Transmitted Disease Screenings
Sexually transmitted diseases can cause different health problems, such as affecting fertility. Women who are sexually active should consider getting tested for different sexual transmitted diseases.
Some sexually transmitted diseases are tested for using urine, while others require a blood test. For example, with herpes, a blood test can identify antibody levels of the virus. This would indicate whether the person has ever been infected with the virus.
MedlinePlus noted that the blood test may come back positive even if the person has never had an outbreak of herpes. Another important blood test to have is for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The set of blood tests used to screen for HIV are the ELISA/Western blot tests.
Thyroid Functioning Tests
If a person’s thyroid is not functioning properly, it can cause several health problems. For example, with hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, a patient can have fatigue, irregular menstrual periods, increased sweating and difficulty concentrating.
With hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, a patient may have weakness, depression, fatigue and heavier menstrual periods. Several blood tests can identify if a person’s thyroid is under-producing or over-producing. Options include the T3 test, T3 resin uptake, TSH test and T4 test.
Blood Glucose Test
The body uses glucose to fuel the cells in the body. Glucose comes from carbohydrates, which are found in different foods. When a person consumes a food with carbohydrates, such as bread or fruit, her body converts it into glucose, which raises her blood glucose level. Some people cannot regulate their blood glucose level, such as people with diabetes.
A blood glucose test can screen for diabetes, though it is also used to monitor patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes. If a fasting blood glucose test has been ordered, the person cannot eat or drink eight hours prior to having her blood drawn.
Other Blood Tests
These are just some of the blood tests that women should have. Other blood tests may be ordered depending on a woman’s personal or family health history. For example, if a woman has a history of breast and/or ovarian cancer linked to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, her doctor may recommend that she be screened for the mutations. Women should talk to their doctors about what blood tests they should have done.
Womenshealth.gov. Heart Disease Fact Sheet. Web. 19 October 2011
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Cholesterol Test. Web. 19 October 2011
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Genital Herpes. Web. 19 October 2011
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. ELISA/Western Blot Tests for HIV. Web. 19 October 2011
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Hyperthyroidism. Web. 19 October 2011
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Hypothyroidism Web. 19 October 2011
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Thyroid Function Tests. Web. 19 October 2011
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Glucose Test – Blood. Web. 19 October 2011
National Cancer Institute. BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer Risk and Genetic Testing. Web. 19 October 2011
Reviewed October 19, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith