In this third of our three part Health-e series, we look at further blood works and what they mean. Sometimes called blood panels, examining your blood is one of a physician’s most vital tools in determining the status of your health.
Lipids are broken down and used for energy and the lipid panel is a collection of tests that measures two types of fat in the blood — cholesterol and triglycerides. Triglycerides are one of the major forms of fat produced in the liver. If you’re wondering what affects triglyceride levels, line up the usual dietary suspects: sugar, fat, and alcohol and you’ll have your answer almost every time. But triglyceride levels can also be high because of perhaps a thyroid or liver disease and genetic conditions. This is an important test for those worried about their heart as high levels of triglycerides are related to a higher risk of heart and blood vessel disease.
There are two types of cholesterol, HDL and LDL. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein, which is a fat that takes extra cholesterol from the blood to the liver for removal. It’s often referred to as the “good” cholesterol, as high levels of HDL cholesterol are desirable and linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. LDL on the other hand stands for low-density lipoprotein, which is a fat that transports cholesterol to parts of the body in need of cell repair.
But LDL also deposits the fat on the inside of artery walls, so it’s often called the “bad” cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol are often linked to an increased risk of heart and blood vessel disease, including coronary artery disease. Therefore, maintaining a healthy number of triglycerides and the right balance between good and bad cholesterol are essential for a heart-healthy lifestyle.
How Are Blood Tests Done?
Ask your BIMC doctor if you need to follow any special instructions. For example, your doctor may ask you to fast (not eat or drink) before having your blood taken. Blood tests are usually done in one of two ways:
A needle is inserted into a vein (usually in the fold of your arm) and blood is withdrawn. You may feel a slight pinprick. Your sample is placed in a test tube and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
If only a small amount of blood is needed, your doctor can obtain blood by simply pricking your finger. Your blood sample is placed on a glass laboratory slide to be examined under a microscope or in a test tube for analysis.
Your blood work results can be sent to you by email and unless your BIMC doctor is concerned about particular results that fall out of range in which case we will call you for a follow up appointment.
But being an informed patient is an important part of developing a strong doctor-patient relationship. With your newly acquired understanding of many of the terms and objectives of your blood tests, you can become a more active participant in your health care and a better custodian of your body.
Health reporting with sources: Huff Post; NYTimes; Newport natural health