What Are The Most Common Hematology Tests?

Hematology refers to the study of blood and the impact it has on disease and overall health. Hematologists study a variety of blood disorders and conduct research to better understand what roles blood plays in the body. The topic covers issues with not only white and red blood cells, but also with platelets, bone marrow, blood vessels, spleen, lymph nodes, and all the proteins involved in clotting and bleeding. Hematologists use their knowledge of these topics to treat blood conditions. When patients see a hematologist, they may do certain diagnostic tests to determine if they have an underlying condition. They may also conduct tests to see whether a treatment they are undergoing is working well enough. Some of the most common blood disorders include hemophilia, anemia, blood clots, and cancers of the blood.

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Complete Blood Count


A complete blood count (CBC) is a type of blood test that evaluates a patient's overall health. It can be used to detect multiple different disorders, including leukemia, infection, and anemia. These tests review several different aspects of blood, including measuring the amount of white blood cells, red blood cells, hemoglobin, and platelets in the makeup of a patient's blood. In addition, they measure the proportion of plasma to red blood cells. If any of these readings are unusual, the hematologist will have a better sense of the underlying condition a patient may be dealing with. Complete blood counts are used for multiple different reasons. In addition to being a diagnostic tool, they can be used for reviewing overall health during a routine examination, monitoring a chronic medical condition, or monitoring ongoing medical treatment. If a patient recovered from a medical condition like cancer, their doctor might take blood tests periodically to make sure they haven't had any relapses. Complete blood counts aren't fasting blood tests, but patients might need to fast if their doctor needs additional information from the sample.

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Blood Chemistry Test


A blood chemistry test is another type of blood test that measures chemicals found in a blood sample. They help find abnormalities in chemical levels and determine how well an individual's organs are functioning. These tests are also sometimes interchangeably called chemistry panels. Multiple types of chemistry tests are available, and the one a doctor uses will vary depending on the patient's circumstances. The doctor might measure minerals, vitamins, proteins, sugars, hormones, lipids, electrolytes, enzymes, or any combination of these things. Electrolyte panels are used to measure minerals including bicarbonate, phosphate, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and chloride. Renal panels measure the function of the kidneys by seeing how much creatinine and blood urea nitrogen is in the patient's blood. Basic metabolic panels take both electrolyte and kidney readings, and they also measure the patient's calcium and glucose. Comprehensive metabolic panels take all of these measurements and also include a liver function test. Blood chemistry tests are used to diagnose conditions, monitor ongoing treatment, and measure the function of organs like the thyroid, liver, and kidneys.

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Blood Enzyme Test


A blood enzyme test can be a vital diagnostic tool during a medical emergency. Cardiac enzyme tests are used to determine whether a patient has had or is currently having a heart attack. The test might also be administered for individuals who have symptoms of artery blockage, including chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness and tiredness, dizziness, cool and clammy skin, sweating, and nausea or vomiting. When the heart undergoes severe stress, the muscle can become damaged. The damaged muscle releases enzymes into the bloodstream. Following a heart attack, these enzymes can reach high levels. If a doctor finds high enzyme levels in the patient's blood, they know there's a serious issue. Cardiac tests often measure the enzyme troponin. Even after the other released enzymes return to normal, troponin will continue having high concentrations in the blood. The results from these tests tend to come in quickly since they're a response to an urgent medical condition. Doctors might repeat the test a few times to monitor how the patient's enzyme levels change.

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Blood Glucose Test


Blood glucose tests measure the glucose levels in the blood. Glucose is a simple sugar cells use for energy. When individuals eat carbohydrates, their body converts them into glucose. These tests are most commonly ordered for individuals with a form of diabetes, such as gestational diabetes, type 1 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes. The test may also be used to diagnose or check for the presence of diabetes. Diabetes causes high levels of blood glucose, which can damage a patient's internal organs and cause death if untreated. The body controls blood sugar with the hormone insulin. With diabetes, the patient's body either doesn't create enough insulin, or doesn't create properly working insulin. Since the insulin isn't converting carbs to usable energy, they build up in the blood and cause toxic reactions. Some patients might also have a blood glucose test done to determine whether they have hypoglycemia, which occurs when their blood glucose is low. After a diabetes diagnosis, patients may have regular glucose tests to monitor their blood sugar and make sure their treatment is working.

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Cholesterol Test


A lipid profile, lipid panel, or complete cholesterol test is a type of blood test that measures how many triglycerides and how much cholesterol is in an individual's blood. Cholesterol tests are used to determine how high a patient's risk of heart disease is. High cholesterol can cause plaques to build up in the arteries, which can lead to a narrowing or blockage that could be life-threatening. Individuals with high cholesterol readings tend to have significantly higher risks of developing coronary artery disease. A complete cholesterol panel measures four lipids found in the blood. Patients will get a total cholesterol reading that measures their blood's cholesterol content. This is broken down further into high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol readings, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol readings, and triglyceride readings. LDL cholesterol leads to plaque buildup in the arteries, but HDL cholesterol carries LDL cholesterol away and keeps arteries unblocked.


    Katherine MacAulay