5 Blood Tests In Your 60s For Better Health
It is important to take care of your health at every age, but once you cross the threshold of 60, it becomes even more important to keep tabs on it. It is essential to get regular checkups and tests to monitor any existing conditions and to check if the medication dosage is correct. Blood tests also help to monitor the underlying issues behind any symptoms you may be experiencing.
Here are 5 blood tests that will help you monitor your health in your 60s.
1. Complete Blood Count (CBC)
CBC is a collection of tests related to the cells in your blood and includes the following:
- White blood cell count (WBCs)
- Red blood cell count (RBCs)
- Haemoglobin (Hgb)
- Hematocrit (Hct)
- Platelet count (Plts)
Why you need CBC
CBC is often used for diagnosing anaemia. If your body is fighting an infection or medications, such as corticosteroids, can elevate the WBC count. If the RBC, WBC, and platelet count are low, it can be indicative of a bone marrow problem. The platelet count for people over 60 may be lower than normal (or higher than normal) which usually requires further evaluation. CBC test normal range is RBC count: Male: 4.7 to 6.1 million cells/mcL. Female: 4.2 to 5.4 million cells/mcL.
2. Basic Metabolic Panel (basic electrolyte panel)
Electrolytes are usually ordered as part of a panel of seven or eight measurements, often referred to as a “chem-7”. It includes:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) (sometimes referred to as “bicarbonate”)
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
Why you need a Basic Metabolic Panel
- Electrolytes such as sodium or potassium can be too high or too low as a side-effect of medications such as certain blood pressure medications, or diuretics.
- High carbon dioxide levels reflect the level of acidity of the blood and this can be affected by lung and kidney function.
- Creatinine and BUN levels monitor kidney function and these numbers can go up if kidney function is temporarily impaired because of dehydration or a medication side-effect or when it is chronically impaired. Adults over the age of 60 may experience mild decreases in kidney function.
- Higher than normal glucose levels can be a sign of undiagnosed or inadequately controlled diabetes. Low glucose levels indicate hypoglycemia which is often caused by diabetes medications.
3. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
This panel includes the parameters mentioned above in the basic metabolic panel and an additional seven items. It’s also referred to as a “chem-14” panel. Apart from the seven tests included in the basic panel, the comprehensive panel also includes:
- Total protein
- Bilirubin (total)
- Alkaline phosphatase
- AST (aspartate aminotransferase)
- ALT (alanine aminotransferase)
Why you need a comprehensive metabolic panel
- Higher or lower than normal blood calcium levels can cause cognitive dysfunction and are a sign of an underlying health problem. They can also be caused by certain types of medication.
- If there is a problem with the liver or the body is not able to maintain albumin in the bloodstream, the results will show low albumin levels. Lower albumin levels can also be a sign of malnutrition.
- Bilirubin is produced by the liver, and an increase in bilirubin can be due to gallstones or a blockage in the bile ducts.
- An elevation in AST and ALT levels often indicates a problem affecting the liver. This can be due to medications or other health conditions.
- Alkaline phosphatase is present throughout the body, but more in bile ducts and bones. Higher levels indicate either a blockage in the liver or an issue affecting bone metabolism.
4. Lipid (cholesterol) Profile Test
Lipid profile tests are used to measure the different types of cholesterol and related fats in the bloodstream. It usually includes:
- Total cholesterol
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, sometimes known as “good” cholesterol
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, sometimes known as “bad” cholesterol
- LDL results are usually calculated, based on the other three results
You may be asked to fast before having your cholesterol checked because triglycerides can increase after eating, and this can give a false low LDL in the results.
Why you must get a Lipid Profile Test
These tests are usually used to evaluate cardiovascular risk in adults over 60. Higher than normal total or LDL cholesterol levels can be treated with a medication, such as a statin or reduced by dietary changes.
5. Vitamin B12 Test
This test measures the serum levels of vitamin B12 and determines if adequate levels are present in the body. It includes tests for:
- Vitamin B12
- Methylmalonic acid
If an older adult has low vitamin B12 levels indicating a deficiency, additional testing may be required to determine the underlying cause.
Why you need a Vitamin B12 test
Vitamin B12 deficiency is quite common in older adults and can be a cause of common problems such as memory lapses, fatigue, and walking difficulties. Low vitamin B12 levels are associated with higher-than-normal methylmalonic acid levels that can help confirm a vitamin B12 deficiency.