Why Are Medical Diagnostic and Screening Tests Are So Important?

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We will likely experience some form of in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests at some point in our lives. Despite being so prevalent, most people don’t have any idea what these tests are and what purpose they serve. Performed on a blood, tissue, urine, or stool sample, IVDs evaluate whether an individual has a particular medical condition, genetic predisposition, or biomarker.

They are typically conducted in clinical laboratories away from the patients. So what exactly is the purpose of these in-vitro tests? Here are the common reasons why the 4 Armed Health IVD tests are performed, serving as an essential component of the medical diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is the process of assessing whether the patient has a particular health disorder or a disease. The diagnostic test is prescribed by a medical practitioner to confirm a diagnosis or to exclude potential disease.

The clinical implication in the first case would be to implement the proper treatment for the diagnosed condition. In the second scenario, further diagnostic tests might have to be conducted. In some cases, other than diagnosing the presence of a specific disease, these tests also indicate the severity and the development of the illness, which helps medical professionals take the right course of action for remediation.

Screening

Screening is used to study patients who have not yet developed any symptoms of a particular disease. It is conducted to determine if the individual has started to develop the disease quietly. In that case, it enables the doctors to implement the appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

Screening tests are subjected to a large group population and are thus usually simple and economical. The preliminary purpose of a screening test is not to diagnose the disease but to identify the individuals who might have it.

Monitoring

These tests are intended to check if the disease is controlled and regulated – a purpose that is important in chronic medical conditions like diabetes. Chronic illnesses do not have a cure, but patients can be carefully monitored to make sure that their condition doesn’t worsen; they use proper medications and make the appropriate lifestyle changes to keep their condition in check.

Prognosis

Prognosis enables clinicians to evaluate the chances of a patient developing an illness in the future so that he or she can take precautions in time. For example, genetic tests assess the predisposition of a patient to develop a specific medical condition, enabling the practitioner and the patient to be more alert to discovering the early signs and symptoms of the disease as well as take the required preventative measures.

What Are Blood Tests?

Blood tests are a standard part of preventive and routine medical care. A practitioner will often order to prescribe a blood test before or after a physical examination of the patient. Blood tests might also be ordered to diagnose or assess specific medical conditions or illnesses. They also help the doctors evaluate the function of your organs and how well treatments are working.

Following are some of the ways a blood test can help doctors or medical professionals:

         Assess the performance of your organs – such as the liver, kidneys, heart, and thyroid

         Diagnose medical conditions and diseases such as diabetes, cancer, coronary heart disease, anemia, and HIV/AIDS

         Check if the prescribed medication regimen is working for the patient

         Assess if the patient has risk factors for a specific heart condition

         Assess the clotting performance of blood

Blood tests are very common, and your practitioner might order one on your regular appointment to see the normal functioning of your body. Most blood tests do not require any particular preparations. For some tests, you might be asked to fast 8 – 12 hours prior to the test.

During a blood test, a small blood sample is drawn from your vein. It is usually done using a needle, but a finger prick may also be used. The procedure is generally easy and quick, even though it might cause some brief discomfort. Most patients don’t have serious reactions to a blood test.

Blood test results indicate whether the levels of different components in the blood fall within the normal range. Your results might fall outside the normal range for a number of different reasons. Abnormal levels might indicate a disease or medical condition. Other factors like the menstrual cycle, diet, medications, alcohol, and physical activity level can also lead to abnormal test results.

Cardiovascular Diagnosis & Screening Tests  

Whenever a patient complains of symptoms that might indicate a heart condition – such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, numbness, sweating, and heart palpitations – the medical team will run several tests to screen and diagnose the patient for cardiovascular diseases. Generally, diagnosing a heart condition requires a combination of blood tests, imaging, and heart monitoring tests.

Cardiovascular diagnostic and screening tests provide medical professionals with a great deal of critical information regarding the electrical activity of the heart, the heartbeat rhythm, how much resistance is the blood flow facing, and how well the blood is pumping through the heart’s valves and chambers, and if there are any abnormalities or tumors in the structure of the cardiovascular system.

What Are Genetic Tests?

Genetic tests are conducted to provide information about the patient’s chromosomes and genes. It detects the changes, also referred to as mutations, in the DNA. Genetic testing is incredibly useful in many fields of medicine and can transform the healthcare that you can receive.          

The outcome of a genetic test can help rule out or check a suspected genetic condition or evaluate the individual’s predisposition to develop the medical disease. Over a thousand different genetic tests are currently being conducted, and many more are being developed.

Genetic tests can be conducted using different methods:

         Molecular genetic tests, also known as gene tests, study short DNA lengths or single genes to detect any mutations or variations that lead to a genetic condition.

         Biochemical, genetic tests evaluate the activity level or a number of proteins – abnormalities in either suggest DNA changes that can cause a genetic disease.

         Chromosomal genetic tests evaluate the long DNA lengths or the whole chromosomes to check whether there are any big genetic variations, like an extra copy of a chromosome.

After acquiring the results of a genetic test, you can decide with your doctor as to what might be the right course of action for you. If you have a family history of a genetic disorder, have signs and symptoms of the genetic disorder or are curious about your likelihood of developing the disease, talk to your doctor about whether genetic testing is the appropriate option for you.

Author Bio

Dr. Georgia Paul is a clinical specialist and a physical therapist with twenty years of experience in the medical field. Apart from being a practicing medical professional, Georgia is also an educator and a firm advocate of preventative healthcare. She strongly believes that everyone should get their screening tests done by the 4 Armed Health once every six to twelve months.

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