How Often Should You Get Blood Work Done in Your 70s?

As we age, regular health screenings and tests become increasingly important to help detect potential issues early and improve prognosis if disease is found. One essential screening tool is blood work, which can provide valuable insights into your health and help optimize quality of life in your later years.

But how often should you really get blood work done once you’re in your 70s?

Experts generally recommend getting full blood work done at least annually once you reach your 70s. However, the frequency may be higher if you have existing health conditions that require closer monitoring or if you are starting new medications. Regular blood work in your 70s is important for early detection of health problems, monitoring changes in your health, preventing complications, guiding interventions, and assessing overall risk.

What is Blood Work?

Blood work, also known as blood tests or lab work, refers to various tests that analyze the blood for specific indicators of health and disease. It involves taking a blood sample, usually obtained by a needle prick of the finger or drawn from a vein in the arm, that is then sent to a lab for analysis.

Some examples of common blood tests include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) – Checks levels of blood cells like red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets
  • Basic metabolic panel – Measures sodium, potassium, chloride, CO2, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, glucose, and calcium levels
  • Lipid panel – Monitors total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides
  • Liver function tests – Assesses enzymes and proteins indicative of liver health
  • Thyroid tests – Screens thyroid hormone levels like TSH, T3, and T4

Blood tests provide key insights that allow your doctor to screen for diseases, monitor chronic conditions, adjust medications, and gain an overall picture of your health. That’s why blood work is an essential component of regular checkups and physical exams.

When to Get Blood Work Done in Your 70s

Once you reach your 70s, experts generally recommend getting full blood work done at least annually. Some doctors may advise blood tests be conducted:

  • Annually as part of your yearly physical exam
  • Every 6 months if you have existing health conditions requiring closer monitoring
  • Before and/or after starting new medications to establish a baseline and check for side effects
  • After any significant change in health status or onset of symptoms

Blood tests may be needed more frequently depending on your individual health profile. Those with well-controlled chronic conditions or no major health issues can likely stick to annual blood work. More frequent monitoring makes sense if:

  • You have diabetes, heart disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure, kidney dysfunction, or liver disease
  • You’ve recently been diagnosed with a new condition needing closer tracking
  • You are trying a new medication or treatment protocol
  • New symptoms or worsening of existing symptoms emerges

Talk to your doctor about finding the optimal schedule for blood work based on your unique health history and status. Annual screening is a good general guideline, but you may require more frequent monitoring.

What Blood Work Tests for at This Age

There are a number of important screening tests typically included in senior blood work panels. Some tests may be added or removed based on your medical history, family history, symptoms, or other factors unique to your health.

Here are some of the key things your doctor will likely check through annual or regular blood work in your 70s:

Heart Health Markers

  • Cholesterol – Total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides
  • Blood glucose – Screens for prediabetes or diabetes
  • HbA1c – Provides an average blood sugar over 2-3 months

Organ Function

  • Kidney tests – Checks kidney function through creatinine, BUN, and electrolyte levels
  • Liver enzymes – ALT, AST, ALP, bilirubin, and albumin assess liver function
  • Thyroid levels – TSH, T3, T4 monitors for hyper or hypothyroidism

Nutrient Levels

  • Vitamin D – Screens for vitamin D deficiency
  • Iron studies – Ferritin and iron helps identify iron deficiency or anemia
  • Calcium – Checks calcium levels

Complete Blood Count

  • White blood cell count – Screens for infections or leukemia
  • Red blood cell count – Monitors for anemia
  • Platelets – Screens for clotting disorders

Any Tests Related to Existing Conditions

  • PSA – Screens for prostate cancer in men
  • HbA1c, glucose – Monitors diabetes management
  • Creatinine, electrolytes – Important for kidney disease
  • TSH – Monitors thyroid treatment

Your doctor may run additional tests if medically necessary based on your health profile. Having annual blood work done allows doctors to thoroughly screen for new issues and monitor existing conditions.

Benefits of Regular Blood Work in Your 70s

There are many important reasons to get regular, annual blood work done once you reach your 70s:

  • Early detection of health problems – Catching issues early allows for better outcomes with prompt treatment
  • Monitor changes – Identifies upward or downward trends to modify treatment plans accordingly
  • Prevent complications – Managing conditions early prevents worse outcomes
  • Guide interventions – Provides data to guide medication adjustments and treatment plans
  • Assess risk – Screens for early signs of disease before major symptoms appear
  • Maintain function – Supports quality of life and independence through optimal health

In particular, thorough screening and monitoring allows providers to detect risks like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, thyroid disorder, anemia, kidney dysfunction, liver impairment and other age-related diseases in the early stages. Finding and addressing issues early makes a big difference in prevention, treatment, and prognosis.

Risks of Infrequent Blood Work in Your 70s

On the other hand, foregoing regular blood work as you get older carries considerable risks:

  • Diseases and dysfunction may be missed or diagnosed late
  • Delayed treatment allows disease to accelerate and worsen
  • Poorer prognosis without early detection and management
  • Suboptimal disease control due to lack of data to modify treatment
  • Preventable complications can occur without routine monitoring
  • Medication issues may be overlooked without blood level tracking
  • Worsening symptoms and loss of function without early intervention

Neglecting to get blood work done at least annually means potentially dangerous health issues can silently develop and progress over time. Catching and controlling conditions early is vital for preserving health and quality of life in your later years.

Understanding Your Blood Work Results

When your blood work results come back from the lab, it’s essential to understand what your values mean and whether any fall outside the normal range.

Here are some tips for comprehending your results:

  • Compare your test results to the supplied reference range – this indicates the expected normal high and low values for your age group.
  • Ask your doctor to explain any abnormal results and what they signify about your health.
  • Discuss what follow-up steps may be needed for out-of-range results like repeat testing, specialist referral, imaging, or medication adjustments.
  • Report any symptoms you’ve been experiencing that may correlate to abnormal findings.
  • Understand the game plan for rechecking problematic lab values on future blood work.

If your blood work uncovers potential issues, don’t panic – early detection leads to better outcomes with proper treatment. Collaborate with your physician on the best next moves to manage any newly identified health problems.

Preparing for Your Visit

To get the most out of your yearly physical and blood work, come prepared with:

  • Medical history – List any prior diagnoses, surgeries, hospitalizations, and medical events
  • Family history – Note any relatives with conditions like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease
  • Medications – Include all prescription drugs, over-the-counter meds, supplements and dosages
  • Symptoms – Mention any worrisome symptoms you want evaluated
  • Questions – Jot down any questions about your results and health

Providing your doctor with this relevant background information allows them to make informed decisions about appropriate screening tests and properly interpret your blood work results.


Regular blood work is one of the most important health screening tools, providing invaluable insight into how your body is functioning as you get older. Most experts recommend annual blood work beginning in your 70s, if not earlier, to check for signs of age-related diseases and monitor existing health conditions.

While advice on screening frequency depends on your unique health status, getting annual blood tests supports early detection and better outcomes. Blood work helps assess disease risk, screen for new issues, prevent complications, and enhance quality of life by managing health proactively. Work with your doctor to determine an optimal testing schedule and take a proactive role in detecting issues early. Consistent blood monitoring can truly help optimize your health in your 70s and beyond!

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