Blood Testing in Longfield, Dartford and Gravesend
Private Blood Testing; Know yourself, inside out
Partnering with Medichecks, we are now able to offer a full range of services including blood testing in Longfield, Dartford and Gravesend. This service is complete with easy to view results and advice from qualified doctors. From hormones and nutrition, to cholesterol and diabetes, with everything from individual markers like vitamins and hormones, to full comprehensive health checks, there is something for everyone. So whether you want to monitor a condition, check your risk of something that runs in the family, or optimise your health and fitness, we have the test for you.
Who are Medichecks?
Founded in 2002, Medichecks established the UK’s first direct-to-consumer blood testing service. Driven by a personal interest in health, Medichecks Co-founder Helen Marsden was surprised how difficult it was to purchase a blood test online. She wanted to make it possible for anyone to be able to get personal health insights with an affordable, convenient service. Since that time Medichecks has evolved from an online catalogue of blood tests into a consumer product, making it easier than ever to understand your body inside and out.
Trusted by the NHS and private clinics alike, you can be sure of the highest testing standards from our partner laboratories.
The quality of test results is very important, and our partner laboratories operate to the highest clinical and administrative standards. Laboratory testing and results are subject to stringent internal and external quality control procedures and are peer assessed to ensure the highest levels of analytical performance and accuracy.
Our partner laboratories are fully accredited and are committed to the highest clinical standards by internal quality control (IQC) and external quality assurance through national schemes such as UK NEQAS. They have been inspected by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) and have been accredited to ISO 15189. Furthermore, they participate in regular quality audits, clinical governance and accreditation inspections.
The Doctor’s Laboratory (TDL) is located in central London and is the largest independent provider of clinical laboratory diagnostic services in the UK. It has a proven reputation for efficient and safe specimen handling worldwide.
County Pathology is located in Guildford in Surrey and is a private pathology laboratory providing blood testing services to a range of clients including clinicians, companies and private hospitals. County Pathology is part of the Eurofins group, an international life sciences group specialising in analytical and diagnostic testing.
Our customers trust us to deliver accurate and timely results and this depends on the laboratories we use. We believe that it is important to develop close relationships with the laboratories we work with so that we can be completely confident in their performance and ultimately the results they are providing to our customers. Our clinical team holds clinical review meetings with all our laboratories several times a year to ensure that the highest standards of testing, accuracy and reporting are maintained.
To make an appointment for blood testing in Longfield, Dartford and Gravesend, or for more information, call or pop into the pharmacy and speak to one of our highly trained staff.
What is blood and what does it do?
Your blood has four main functions – it is responsible for transportation, fighting disease and infection, clotting and body temperature.
Transport system – Your blood is the main transportation system for your body, carrying oxygen, hormones and nutrients to the cells and tissues that need them. It is also responsible for carrying carbon dioxide back to the lungs where it is exhaled, and waste and toxins to the liver and kidneys where they can be filtered and cleared out.
Fighting infection – Your blood carries the white cells that fight infection to the site of injury. You have five different types of white cell and each one targets a different type of infection. For example, your neutrophils target bacteria and fungus, whereas your basophils target allergic reactions.
Clotting – Your blood forms clots at the site of an injury to ensure that blood loss is controlled.
Regulating body temperature – Your blood is responsible for maintaining body temperature by absorbing heat and moving it around the body.
What is blood made of?
Blood has four main components – plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, each with their own roles.
Plasma – Plasma makes up around 55% of blood and is the liquid component containing over 700 proteins and other substances including hormones, fats, carbon dioxide, vitamins and glucose.
Red blood cells (also called erythrocytes and RBCs) – Red blood cells contain haemoglobin – a protein that distributes oxygen to the cells of the body and gives the blood its red colour. Red blood cells also carry waste carbon dioxide back to the lungs.
White blood cells (also known as leukocytes and WBCs) – White blood cells are essential for good health and protection against illness and disease. When the body is in distress and a particular area is under attack, white blood cells rush to help destroy the threat. There are a variety of different white blood cell types each with different roles in the immune response.
Platelets– Platelets are crucial in helping the blood to clot when the body is injured. If a blood vessel is damaged, it sends out signals to platelets. They respond to this signal by quickly finding their way to the site of damage and forming a blood clot.
What is a blood group?
Although all blood may look the same, its exact composition is not the same in everyone. The surface of each red blood cell is coated with a combination of sugars and proteins called antigens. The absence or presence of particular antigens (which is determined by the genes you inherit from your parents) determines your blood type. There are four main blood groups, referred to as the ABO system: O, A, B and AB. Blood groups are very important when it comes to blood transfusions – receiving blood from the wrong ABO group can be life-threatening. You can find out what blood type you are by taking the test. Book an appointment for blood testing in Longfield, Dartford and Gravesend today!
The rhesus (Rh) system is also important in blood transfusions. There are five main rhesus antigens on red cells with Rh D being the most important. The D antigen on red blood cells is what gives individuals the positive (+) or the negative (-) after the letter A, B, AB or O of their blood group.
What can you find out from a blood test?
Almost any molecule that is in your blood can be isolated and measured by a blood test. This means that we can study the different types of blood cells themselves as well as things that are being transported in the blood like nutrients, hormones and waste products.
A blood test gives you a snapshot of your health at any point in time. You may have a blood test as part of a regular check-up, to help investigate symptoms and diagnose a condition or to keep track of your risk of long-term chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. The NHS report that a laboratory blood test is involved in over 70% of the diagnoses made in a GP surgery or hospital. To find out more about your health simply get booked in for blood testing in Longfield, Dartford or Gravesend.
What’s in a routine blood test?
A routine blood test is one that your doctor is most likely to order to investigate a wide range of symptoms and conditions. The two main components of a routine blood test are a haematology profile and a biochemistry profile. The NHS performs an incredible 500 million biochemistry and 120 million haematology tests every year. And yet most patients have no idea what they’re being tested for and why. Below we explain what is included in these profiles and why they are so commonly tested.
The main purpose of a haematology blood test is to look at the different types of blood cells – namely your red cells, white cells and clotting cells. This is also commonly known as a full blood count (FBC) or complete blood count (CBC).
Red Blood Cells
This test looks at the size, shape and distribution of your red blood cells. One of the primary roles of the red blood cells is to transport oxygen around the body. An examination of your red blood cells is used primarily to diagnose anaemia – a very common condition which can be caused by insufficient dietary iron or vitamin B12 and folate. The results of this test might explain your lack of energy and general unexplained fatigue.
White Blood Cells
Your white blood cells are a measure of your ability to fight infection – it is common to see your white blood cell count rise in response to a viral or bacterial infection and then normalise once the problem is resolved.
Your clotting cells are essential to prevent uncontrolled bleeding, but sometimes they don’t work as they should. If you bruise easily, this may be due to an abnormality with your clotting cells.
The main purpose of a biochemistry blood test is to identify how well your major organs and body systems are functioning.
Liver Function Test (LFTs)
Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body and, depending on your lifestyle, potentially one of the most abused. Your liver performs many vital functions, from storing glycogen to manufacturing cholesterol, to eliminating toxins. Your test results will show whether your liver enzymes are raised which could indicate liver damage, and may be the first signs of liver disease.
Your kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products from your body. The kidney function test, which also measures your level of electrolytes, examines how well they are doing their job. If you have raised blood sugar or diabetes then it is especially important to keep a check on your kidney function.
This test looks at the amount of the proteins albumin and globulin that are in your blood which can help in the diagnosis of liver and kidney disease as well as malnutrition.
Uric acid is a waste product which is formed when the body breaks down the purines found in food. Having high levels of uric acid raises your risk of kidney stones and gout.
A diabetes test can either be a snap-shot of the amount of glucose in your blood at a point in time (a blood glucose test), or can look at the average amount of glucose in your blood over a 2-3 month period (HbA1c test). Raised blood sugar is a sign that you are becoming insulin resistant, which means that your body is failing to get the sugar you eat into your cells for energy. Eventually, if you don’t bring your blood sugar under control, this will lead to type 2 diabetes, which raises your risks for a host of diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Lipid profile (cholesterol test)
Your blood lipids are fats which circulate in your blood – you will probably know them as LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides. Having high levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood raises your risk of heart disease, especially if you have low levels of protective HDL cholesterol.
Iron status tests measure the amount of iron in your blood as well as your body’s capacity to absorb iron. The aim to is to diagnose anaemia or haemochromatosis (iron overload syndrome) an inherited condition which means that the body absorbs too much iron from your food.
A routine blood test will look for levels of calcium and phosphate, essential minerals needed for strong bones and teeth as well as muscle (including heart) function.
What else can be measured in a blood test?
There are many other types of blood test that look at different body systems and markers of health.
Endocrinology tests measure the levels of hormones in your blood. Hormones are secreted by glands into the blood which transports them to the tissues they act upon. The type of test you are taking will depend on what you or your doctor is hoping to find out, but can include tests for thyroid function, reproductive hormones and pituitary hormones.
Immunology tests look for evidence that your body is fighting an infection or disease (or has fought one in the past). They look for and measure antibodies produced by your immune system to overcome a certain infection. They can also screen for autoimmune disease, when the body starts to produce antibodies against its own tissues.
Microbiology tests are looking for bacteria or infections in your blood.
Do I have to be ill to have blood test?
Although blood tests are an invaluable tool to help diagnose a condition or investigate symptoms, you don’t have to be ill to benefit from a blood test. Lots of people are now using blood tests as a prevention tool, picking up health risks that can be managed through lifestyle interventions before they develop into symptoms.
Other reasons why people have blood tests include:
- To investigate a family history
- To understand their health risks
- To optimise their nutrition
- To optimise their sports performance
- To understand their fertility
- For occupational reasons (immunity tests and exposure to work-related toxins)
How often should I have a blood test?
This will depend on why you are having a blood test in the first place. Sometimes you will need only one test, at others you might need several or even multiple tests to get on top of a health issue.
If your blood test has successfully diagnosed a condition for which you have been treated and you are no longer symptomatic, then you may not need any follow-up tests. If your test results were inconclusive, your doctor may recommend a repeat test in the next few weeks or months.
Blood tests are often used to monitor a condition, to ensure that it is being controlled through medication and/or lifestyle changes. Sometimes a monitoring blood test is looking at the impact of medication on other health markers like your liver function. It is normal for monitoring to be fairly frequent in the 12 months following a diagnosis. Once your doctor is satisfied that your condition is stable testing frequency is generally reduced.
People who want to optimise their health are not usually ill, but are aiming to meet certain health goals through their diet say or a fitness programme. Someone seeking to optimise their sports performance may choose to test at different points in their training cycle to see how well they are adapting to the additional training stresses. People looking to optimise their diet and lifestyle may want to test before and after they make significant changes like becoming vegan, giving up alcohol or starting running. Some changes may show up in your blood quite quickly, and others may take longer. It is best to wait at least 3 months for any changes to be seen.
Understanding your blood test results?
Some of your results will be reported according to whether they fall inside or outside of a normal range, whereas others (like detecting a virus) might be reported as “detected” or “not detected”.
How are laboratory ranges set?
The “normal” range for any given population is usually the range within which 95% of that population falls. This means that 2.5% of that population will be above the normal range and 2.5% will be below the normal range. At the edges of the normal range there are areas of overlap where healthy individuals will have results outside the “normal” range and unwell individuals will have results inside the normal range.
Some reference ranges aren’t based on the distribution of results in a given population, but on a level which is optimal for your health. For example, HbA1c – which is a marker for diabetes – is ideally kept below 42 mmol/mol. Above that, you will be classed as having pre-diabetes – and above 48 mmol/mol, full blown type 2 diabetes is diagnosed.
Who sets laboratory ranges?
Laboratory reference ranges are usually set by laboratory itself or by the manufacturer of the laboratory test. This means that ranges can be different between laboratories, especially if they test different populations of people with differing health characteristics or use analysers which are manufactured by different companies.
Can I compare results between different laboratories?
As different laboratories use different analysers and potentially have different reference ranges (and may test at different times), one result can look very different from another. The important thing is not to try to compare results directly, but to look at where your result lies in the range. A result mid-way through the range with one laboratory should also be about mid-way through the range with another. However, there are lots of things that might affect your result from one test to the next, including what time of day you took your sample, whether you have eaten, how hydrated you are and whether you have taken supplements or medication. We discuss what can influence your blood test results in the next chapter.
How will my blood test results be reported to me?
The vast majority of blood test results will be reported according to whether they fall within the test’s reference range. Normally, results which fall outside the range are marked by the laboratory with an asterisk. Many consumer health companies and some GPs are now presenting laboratory results in easy-to-read digital dashboards where you can visualise your results and see at a glance whether they lie inside or outside of the normal range.
Some GPs will not have the time to take you through your test results individually and you may not be told anything about the actual values tested, only that they are normal or abnormal. If you are interested in knowing more you have the right to ask your GP for a copy of your results. The NHS app may let you view your GP test results if your GP practice has enabled this feature.
Some of my blood tests results are outside the reference range – should I be worried?
Given that 5% of the universe of normal participants used to establish the range are outside the 95% distribution, it is perfectly possible to have a result outside that range and be considered “normal”.
Any abnormal result, however small, can give rise to anxiety which is why it is important that a qualified doctor interprets your results. Most blood tests need to be looked at in the context of other results, your symptoms, your medical history and your lifestyle. One or two abnormalities in otherwise normal results is usually no cause for concern, but sometimes the pattern of results may indicate that a result needs further investigation or treatment.
What should I do if I get an unexpected result?
If a result looks unusual the first thing your doctor will do is repeat the test. Often, an unusual result will revert to normal when it is tested again, especially if there were any factors (e.g. illness, exercise, medications) that may have interfered with the original result.
How does a blood test work?
Before your blood can be tested it needs to be removed from your body before being sent to a laboratory. There are two main ways to collect a blood sample:
Collecting a venous sample uses a needle to puncture a vein, usually in your arm, to collect blood into a tube and it allows a larger volume of blood to be collected than by finger-prick. You should only have your blood taken in this way by a phlebotomist – someone who is trained and qualified to collect a venous sample.
When taking a finger-prick sample a lancet is used to prick your finger and allows you to collect a small blood sample, by gently ‘milking’ your finger. You can do this type of test yourself and it’s less invasive than a venous sample.
Where can I get blood testing in Longfield, Dartford and Gravesend?
NHS blood tests
Blood testing is one of the many services that the NHS provides and can be done at your GP surgery or your local hospital. Blood testing helps to investigate symptoms and diagnose a condition. A trained clinician will take your blood, usually from a vein in your arm, and the blood will generally be sent to an NHS laboratory to be analysed.
Private blood tests
There is a wide range of blood tests available privately that can be ordered online and taken at home or where you can go and have a sample collected by a phlebotomist. Many private clinics, hospitals and pharmacies now offer blood collection services. The laboratories used for private blood tests use the same methodologies, operate to the same standards and are accredited in the same way as NHS labs. In some cases they are the same labs that the NHS uses. Get private blood testing in Longfield, Dartford and Gravesend through Hodgson Pharmacy.
Preparing for a blood test
To make your sample collection a smooth process there are a few things you can do to help increase blood flow:
- Drink plenty of water – staying hydrated will make it easier to collect your blood sample
- Get warmed up – try having a hot shower before your collect your sample (or immerse your hands in hot water) or try jumping on the spot for a minute (this is especially useful for finger-prick blood collection)
- Stand up – when taking a finger-prick sample let gravity help you by standing up
Does a blood test hurt?
Many people are nervous before they have a blood test and this is completely normal. The process itself is quick and straightforward. With a venous blood test, you will feel a little scratch and pinch when the needle goes in but drawing the blood isn’t really painful. It is normal for your arm to bruise afterwards at the site where the needle went in. For a finger prick blood test, as the name suggests, you will feel a scratch and pinch on your finger in the area where the lancet went in. This area may be slightly tender for a little while after taking your sample.
Get essential blood testing in Longfield, Dartford and Gravesend through Hodgson Pharmacy.
The above content has been supplied by medichecks.com