Key Blood Tests for Women
Any patient going to a doctor for a specific reason usually has a list of symptoms that provide some clues about what’s going on. This information can then be used to determine what kind of diagnostic and lab tests to perform. Other times, doctors may suggest certain blood tests in an attempt to detect possible health issues early. For women, there are four key blood tests that can provide a clearer health picture for doctors and patients alike.
Blood Sugar Test
A blood test performed for this purpose measures the level of glucose (“blood sugar”) in a collected sample. If levels are abnormal, it means a woman’s body is either not sufficiently processing insulin or that not enough insulin is being produced to effectively keep blood sugar levels in check. Consistent elevated glucose levels may be an indication that a woman has diabetes. Less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered a healthy blood sugar level.
In general, men are more likely to have higher cholesterol levels than women, especially younger men. However, post-menopausal women are more likely than men to have elevated cholesterol levels. A lipid panel or profile is a type of blood test that measures four things: total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Women already at risk of developing heart disease want to strive for a total cholesterol level of less than 100 mg/dL.
TSH and T4 Tests
Women are statically more likely than men to have issues with an over-active or an under-active thyroid gland (hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism). If thyroid issues are suspected, a doctor may order TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and T4 tests to measure thyroid-related hormone levels. Typically, a TSH test is performed first to determine if hormone levels are within a normal range. If results are abnormal, a T4 test is usually done to identify the specific condition affecting the thyroid gland.
Vitamin D Test
Increased fatigue, frequent instances of bone and spine-related pain, changes in mood, and hair loss are among the symptoms that may suggest a woman has a significant vitamin D deficiency. Normal results from a vitamin D blood test are 30 ng/mL or higher. The frequency with which this test is performed will depend on a woman’s age, dietary habits, and overall health.
The results from any of these blood tests can be used by health professionals to offer important, patient-specific advice to women. For instance, a blood test may suggest that a woman is among the estimated 86 million Americans considered to be prediabetic. So, a doctor may suggest proactive lifestyle adjustments such as eating healthier foods and getting regular exercise to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.