Men spill it and in the bygone days used it to seal friendships. Yes, we are talking about blood. Just like the color, amount, feel, and odor of your car’s oil gives you an indication about the well-being of the engine, your blood reveals the truth about the health of your body.
When you are young, your body has the ability to recover quickly. However, as you hit middle age, it will start showing the ill-effects of your unhealthy lifestyle and possibly the bad genes you have inherited. That is why when men reach middle age, they should not neglect the five following blood tests when they go for their annual health checkup.
- Complete Blood Count
As the name suggests, a complete blood count or CBC gives your physician information about your red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the different parts of your body; white blood cells that are part of the immune system and fight infections; and platelets that are responsible for clotting your blood when bleeding takes place.
If you are a physically active, middle-aged man who follows healthy eating habits, but you suffer from shortness of breath while exercising, the doctor will figure out the reason with CBC test. The test will reveal your hemocrit and hemoglobin levels. The low levels are the reason for your shortness of breath. This can be a sign of heart arrhythmia, blood disorder, or anemia.
- Blood Sugar Levels
Middle age is the time when men come down with Type 2 diabetes. So, it makes sense to keep a track on your blood sugar levels. The doctor will request a comprehensive metabolic panel, which will see the Phlebotomist drawing blood for a fasting blood sugar test. This will be compared to your postprandial blood sugar test to ascertain whether you are diabetic or not.
If your fasting blood sugar levels are more than 100 mg/dl or your postprandial level is more than 6 percent the normal rate, you will have to undergo an oral glucose tolerance test. You should also request for this test if you have belly fat or you tend to nod off after eating a high carb meal in the afternoon. The same holds true if you have a family history of heart disease and/or diabetes.
In case you are found diabetic, it is time to visit a nutritionist to plan your daily diet and also head to the gym to shed the excessive weight you are carrying around. Reducing your carb intake and exercising for 15 to 20 minutes a day should increase your insulin sensitivity.
- Lipid Profile
Even if you think you are healthy, you should get a lipid assay done. It will give you an idea about your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If your HDL cholesterol is between 45 and 50 mg/dl, LDL under 130 mg/dl and triglycerides under 150 mg/dl, you have nothing to worry about. But an annual test should be a priority so that you can take proactive measures if the levels are too high.
If your HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol levels are too low, consume walnuts with yogurt to raise them. High triglycerides levels mean reducing your carbohydrate consumption. And high LDL levels should get you to take up exercising. This will reduce your risk of dying due to a heart attack.
- C-Reactive Protein Test
C-reactive protein test looks for signs of inflammation in your arteries. Inflamed arteries result in cardiovascular disease. Usually, the doctor will take into consideration your total blood cholesterol level and C-reactive protein level to ascertain your risk of developing heart disease.
You should be looking to take two tests, one month apart, to figure out whether you have any type of inflammation in your body. Doctors take the average of both scores which should be under 1 mg/L. Anything higher is worrying as it means you are at a greater risk of heart attacks.
- Thyroid Test
Most men assume that thyroid problems are restricted to women. On the contrary, even men can develop them, and middle age is when thyroid issues seem to manifest. Usually, stress and poor sleep are the reasons for thyroid problems.
You can have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). The former cases weight loss, sleep issues, and increased heart rate while the latter results in weight gain, hair loss, memory issues, and personality changes. Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are serious health conditions, which can be life-threatening and require proper treatment.