9 Essential Blood Tests Everyone Should Get

When was the last time you had a blood test when you weren’t sick? Most of us usually wait until something is wrong before we see a doctor - which is doing things backward.

Instead, you can take a proactive approach to your health through regular laboratory tests. These tests tell you the state of your overall health. Through a blood test, a doctor will know whether your body organs (heart, kidney, liver, and others) are functioning as they should.

A blood test can detect if you are pre-disposed to certain diseases so you can take steps now to stay healthy. Research shows that Filipinos are predisposed to many chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. Chronic diseases are also among the leading causes of death in the Philippines, so it’s important to catch them early when they are most treatable.  

Laboratory tests are also a great way to manage chronic disease before symptoms become severe. If you are prescribed medication, your blood test will also let the doctor know if the drugs are working to manage your condition.

As you can see, there are many critical reasons why you should take blood tests regularly. If you are wondering where to begin, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll talk about the 9 essential blood tests for monitoring your health.

9 Essential Blood Tests

1. Fasting Blood Sugar Test (FBS test)

What is an FBS test? The FBS is a simple test that shows the glucose levels in your blood and is taken after you’ve fasted overnight.

The FBS test also checks if you have a type of diabetes that sometimes occurs during pregnancy called gestational diabetes.

Why should I take an FBS test? According to the International Diabetes Federation, 1 in 14 adult Filipinos is diabetic. Diabetes is also one of the main causes of death in the Philippines, cutting an average of 8.5 years off their lifespan. However, with early diagnosis and effective management, most people with diabetes can expect to live a normal life. This is why the FBS test is critical to your health.

Who should get an FBS test?  The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends diabetes screenings beginning at age 35 every 3 years for people with the following risk factors, such as:

  • Anyone with a history of diabetes in the family
  • Anyone who is overweight
  • Ethnicity is also a risk factor for getting diabetes, including Filipinos, African Americans, and Latinos
  • Pregnant women (ask your OBGYN for the timing of this test)

Where can I get tested? You can get your fasting blood sugar level tested at hospitals, or clinics with laboratories in the Philipines. If you’d like to do this from the comfort of your home then you can take advantage of a home service laboratory. It is important not to eat the night before because this could cause you to have artificially high blood sugar levels. Otherwise, the lab results might not show an accurate picture of your sugar (glucose) levels. You may need to follow up with a test for auto-antibodies to check if you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

2. Complete Blood Count (CBC test)

What is a CBC? A complete blood count is one of the most frequent tests doctors order. It checks your blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, degree of hemoglobin, platelets, and hematocrit). It can detect a wide range of diseases and conditions.

When should I get a CBC test? A CBC test is often part of a annual physical exam, providing an indication of your overall health. It can also help diagnose illness when your symptoms are vague.

If you’re taking medications for an underlying condition, a CBC test can see if the treatment is working. If you are also on medication that can interfere with your blood cells, then a complete blood count can help to monitor your health to be sure the cells are at the right levels.

Who should get a CBC test? Anyone can get tested for complete blood count to keep track of their general health. However, if you experience the following, you are strongly recommended to get a CBC test:

  • Issues with your blood pressure or heart rate.
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling on any part of your body
  • Joint pain
  • Bleeding easily or getting bruises
  • High body temperatures, vomiting, and nausea

Where can I get the test? You can have a CBC lab test done at most laboratories in the Philippines. You can also get a home service blood test, no prescription is necessary.

3. Troponin (Cardiac Biomarker) Test

What is a troponin test? Cardiac biomarkers, such as troponin, measure the level of heart enzymes in your bloodstream.  These enzymes are a strong indicator of heart health and can help identify disease, heart attacks, and the risk of future cardiac problems--even in asymptomatic people.

Why should I get the test?  New studies suggest the level of the troponin in your blood can help predict the likelihood of heart attack or stroke. The blood test can also monitor whether medications or surgery have improved your heart’s condition.

Who should get the test? The test can help identify cardiac risk in people who are asymptomatic or have a family history of heart conditions.  It is also essential for anyone who has symptoms of cardiac problems. These symptoms may include:

  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Experiencing pain in the chest area
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea
  • Rapid or irregular pulse
  • Constantly being out of breath

Where can I get the test? You can get tested at a hospital or laboratory in the Philippines. Home service laboratory is available for patients without symptoms, who want to assess their risk of future heart problems.

4. Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP)

What is a BMP? This test is used to check the volume of 8 substances in your body, namely:

  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
  • Glucose (blood sugar)
  • Calcium
  • Creatinine
  • Chloride
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Bicarbonate

Why should I get the test? The levels of these compounds indicate if your liver, nervous system, muscles, kidneys, and heart are working properly. The Basic Metabolic Panel also checks the number of electrolytes present in your blood, which are in charge of maintaining a good water balance and acid-pH balance in your body. Additionally, a basic metabolic panel can show your blood sugar levels and whether or not your body is processing sugar properly.

Who should get this test? Anyone can get a basic metabolic panel test as part of their regular physical exam. However, there are other cases where a BMP test is recommended:

  • If you are in the emergency room
  • If you are having trouble breathing
  • If you vomit regularly
  • If you have particular chronic conditions like kidney disease or hypertension
  • If you experience fatigue or confusion

Where can I get the test? A basic metabolic panel test can be carried out by a clinical laboratory, in a hospital setting, or through a home service laboratory.

5. Comprehensive Metabolism Panel (CMP)

What is a CMP? This test measures the 8 compounds listed under the basic metabolic panel test plus 6 more substances which are:

  • Total proteins
  • Albuminin
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
  • Bilirubin
  • Alanine transaminase (ALT)
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)

Why should I get the test? The CMP is another routine, go-to health screening. Similar to the Basic Metabolic Panel, it checks your blood sugar levels, metabolism, and chemical balance. Additionally, the CMP can help detect if your kidney and liver are healthy or failing. It is often part of your annual physical exam.

Who should get tested? Anyone can get the CMP as part of their yearly check-up. If you suffer from chronic conditions and/or are on medications, the CMP is doubly important for monitoring your health. It can help track whether conditions such as kidney disease, hypertension, and diabetes are progressing or under control. If your doctor suspects you might have issues with your kidney or liver then they can also recommend a CMP.

Where can I get the test? You can get this test done in a hospital setting or from a home service laboratory - whichever is convenient for you.

6. Cholesterol Test (Lipid Panel)

What is a Cholesterol Test? A cholesterol test is an essential blood test that is often included in your physical exam. It evaluates the type and amount of cholesterol and fats present in your blood. It checks the overall, good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol you have and also the amount of triglycerides.

Why should I get tested? Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the Philippines. It is also known for being a silent killer. You cannot look at a person and tell if they have high cholesterol. Even underweight people may have unhealthy amounts of cholesterol in their system. A blood test is needed to determine whether or not you are at risk of having heart disease or stroke.

Who should get tested? The CDC recommend cholesterols screening for healthy adults every 4-6 years.  They also recommend children get tested once between 9-11 years, and again at 17-21 years of age.  If you have the following symptoms/conditions, then you might be especially susceptible to cardiovascular disease and need more frequent screening:

  • Being overweight
  • Having diabetes
  • Not engaging in physical activity
  • Smoking
  • When your overall cholesterol levels are high
  • If your blood pressure is high
  • When you are under a lot of stress
  • If you are consuming unhealthy foods

Many laboratories in the Philippines offer cholesterol screening tests, so you can visit most any medical facility with a lab. You can also get a cholesterol blood test through a home service laboratory.

7. DHEA - Sulfate Serum Test

What is a DHEA test? This is a test used to determine the amount of DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) available in one’s bloodstream. DHEA is a steroid hormone that our adrenal glands secrete and is an important health and fertility indicator.

Why should I get tested? If your DHEA levels are too low you could be suffering from Addison’s disease. High levels could be due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).  PCOS is a leading cause of infertility and elevated DHEA levels are found in 20% to 30% of women with PCOS. High levels can also indicate the presence of an adrenal tumor.

Who should get tested? If your doctor suspects you might have an adrenal disorder, they’ll recommend the test.  You may also be referred for this test if you have trouble conceiving. High levels in women can point to PCOS, but further diagnostic testing is needed for a PCOS diagnosis.

A doctor may also order a DHEA test for the following:

  • To determine if there’s a disorder with your ovaries or testicles. Our bodies turn the DHEAS produced into male and female hormones (estrogen, androstenedione, and testosterone) to help in the development of male physical characteristics (for boys) when they go through puberty and with reproduction for both males and females. Therefore, the test can indicate whether one’s reproductive organs are healthy.
  • Females who develop more male physical characteristics like excessive hair.
  • The doctor thinks your adrenal glands may not be functioning as they should.
  • Boys who go through puberty at an early age.
  • Babies who cannot be clearly identified as male or female based on their genitalia.

If you undergo sex hormone tests (for example estrogen tests for females and testosterone tests for males), your doctor will most likely conduct a DHEAS test too.

If you experience the following, you may also consider a DHEAS test:

  • Severe acne
  • Losing hair at the top of your head
  • Losing weight mysteriously
  • Too much hair growing on your face
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Voice deepening
  • Sudden salt craving
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Infertility (high DHEA levels may cause difficulty conceiving)

Where can I get the test? A phlebotomist can conduct a sulfate serum test at a medical facility. If you prefer not to visit a lab or clinic then you can choose a home service blood test where the medical personnel comes to you instead.

8. Thyroid Panel Test

What is a thyroid panel test? As the name suggests, this blood test indicates whether or not your thyroid is working well. The thyroid is a gland that creates hormones that run many processes in your body, such as heart rate, mood, and how quickly your body burns calories. Therefore, it’s important for your thyroid to function well.

Why should I get tested? Nearly 9% of Filipinos suffer from a thyroid condition. A doctor may recommend a thyroid panel test if they suspect you have a thyroid disorder. Your thyroid could be overactive (also known as hyperthyroidism) or under-active (also known as hypothyroidism).

Who should get tested? If you experience the symptoms below, you may consider getting a thyroid panel test:

  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
  • Forgetfulness
  • Enlarged thyroid (goiter)
  • Losing hair
  • Experiencing muscle and joint pain
  • A lower heart rate
  • Higher heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Having problems tolerating extreme temperatures (hot or cold)
  • Being unable to sleep
  • Constipation
  • Involuntary shaking of the hands
  • Dry or puffy skin
  • Muscle weakness

Where can I get the test? You can visit a hospital or clinic for a thyroid panel test. You can also get it done by a home service laboratory.

9. High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein Test (hs-CRP Test)

What is a CRP test? The aim of this test is to examine the amount of CRP present in our blood. Our liver normally produces a protein called CRP when our bodies are inflamed. The CRP protein is then released into our blood to protect our damaged tissues. This also happens when you have an infection, go through trauma, or have cardiac disease.

Why should I take this test? Heart disease is prevalent in the Philippines. Even in the midst of the pandemic, it remained the number one cause of death in the Philippines, claiming nearly twice as many lives as COVID-19.  Filipinos can take this blood test to learn whether they are at risk of heart problems, heart attack, or stroke--and take preventative action.

Who should get tested for CRP? Anyone in their mid-30s and above. You should also have the blood test if you have the following symptoms:

  • Have diabetes
  • Smoke
  • Don’t engage in physical activity
  • Breath rapidly
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Experience nausea and vomiting
  • Are experiencing high levels of emotional stress
  • Have a rapid heart rate
  • Have gum disease

Where can I get the test? You can go to a medical facility to get a hs-CRP test or have it done at the comfort of your home, by a home service laboratory.

Staying Healthy with Routine Blood Tests

As an adult, there are several key blood tests you should have regularly for a long and healthy life. Routine lab tests can help your doctor catch chronic health conditions early, before they cause severe disease. Blood tests can also help determine your risk for future health problems, such as stroke and heart disease.  You can book these tests at a lab or schedule at your convenience through a home service laboratory.