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Blood Tests

Prostatic Specific Antigen (PSA)

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in the blood. It is normal for men to have a low level of PSA in their blood. Elevated PSA levels can occur with benign (not cancerous) conditions of the prostate as well as prostate cancer. A man’s PSA level alone does not give doctors enough information to distinguish between benign prostate conditions and cancer, however, the doctor will take the result of the PSA test into account when deciding whether to check further for prostate cancer. A man should discuss an elevated PSA test result with his doctor.

Testosterone

Testosterone is a steroid hormone (androgen) secreted mainly by the testes that promotes secondary sex characteristics such as increased muscle and bone mass and the growth of body hair. Levels can increase after exercise and decrease with age. On average, adult men have levels about 7-8 times greater than women.

Low Testosterone (Low T or Hypogonadism) can cause multiple symptoms in males including fatigue, decreased sex drive, difficulty concentrating, hot flashes, erectile dysfunction, infertility, decrease in beard and body hair growth, decrease in muscle mass, development of breast tissue (gynecomastia) and loss of bone mass (osteoporosis).

Glucose

Glucose is a simple sugar that comes from food and is the main energy source for your muscles and brain. Common sources of glucose are carbohydrates such as fruit, bread, pasta and rice. These foods are broken down into sugar, and absorbed into the bloodstream. A normal level before eating in the morning is under 100 mg/dL. A normal level 1-2 hours after a meal is 140 mg/dL. This blood glucose test can detect both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia (high or low blood sugar levels) to help diagnose diabetes and also to monitor glucose levels in persons with known diabetes. Screening is especially important for people at high risk of developing diabetes, such as those with a family history of the disease, those who are overweight and those who are more than 40 years old.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat that our bodies need to remain healthy, but too much can clog blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease. A blood cholesterol level is different from most tests in that it is not used to diagnose or monitor a disease but is used simply to estimate the risk of developing a disease — specifically heart disease. Because high blood cholesterol has been associated with hardening of the arteries, heart disease and a raised risk of death from heart attacks, cholesterol testing is considered a routine part of preventive health care and should be measured at least once every five years in men over the age of 20. A healthy level will be under 200 mg/dL.

Magnesium

Magnesium is one of many electrolytes in your body. Normal levels of magnesium are important for the maintenance of heart and nervous system function. It also helps the body use energy and is needed to move other electrolytes (potassium and sodium) into and out of cells. Poor kidney function may elevate levels, as magnesium won't get excreted efficiently. You may have muscle weakness, confusion, and decreased reflexes if your blood magnesium levels are severely low.

Uric Acid

Uric acid is produced from the natural breakdown of your body's cells and from the foods you eat. Once produced, it’s carried in your blood and passes through your kidneys, where most of it is filtered out into the urine. About one in five people has a high uric acid level. It may be related to attacks of gout or the development of kidney stones. High levels are also seen in high protein diets and kidney disease. Most people with high uric acid levels don't have any symptoms or related problems. Low levels generally indicate protein deficiency or liver damage.

Liver function tests

Liver function tests include testing for ALT and AST, which are enzymes found mainly in the liver. They are found in lesser amounts in other tissues including the heart, pancreas, brain and muscles, and the enzymes are released into the blood when any of these tissues are damaged. Increased levels can be seen with liver disease, heart attacks, obesity, diabetes, mononucleosis and hepatitis.


Hearing Screening

The hearing screening tests the hearing in both ears. If you passed, your hearing is within normal limits. If you failed, you have hearing loss in one or both ears and a more comprehensive evaluation by a physician and an audiologist is needed. The hearing screening is not for individuals who have been previously diagnosed with hearing loss or currently wear hearing aids.


Vision Screening

The Vision Screening tests for color blindness, near sightedness, far sightedness, as well as peripheral vision.

Nearsightedness makes distant objects appear blurred. Farsightedness makes it difficult to see items clearly close up. Both conditions occur when light is not properly focused on the retina. The test results for near and farsightedness are called your visual acuity readings and are expressed as a fraction.

The top number refers to the distance you stand from the chart. This is usually 20 feet. The bottom number indicates the distance at which a person with normal eyesight could read the same line you correctly read.

For example, 20/20 is considered normal. 20/40 indicates that the line you correctly read at 20 feet away can be read by a person with normal vision from 40 feet away.

Color blindness is the inability or decreased ability to see color, or perceive color differences, under normal lighting conditions. There is no actual blindness but there is a deficiency of color vision. Approximately 7-10% of American men have red/green color blindness.

Your peripheral vision is the visual field at the “outside” of your vision. That means, while your eyes may be focused on an object directly in front of you, you should still have the ability to see and recognize objects to your left, right, up and down—not directly in your line of sight. Loss of peripheral vision can be a sign of a number of eye diseases, including glaucoma and other optic nerve disorders and should be tested regularly.

Eye Pressure

Normal eye pressure is between 10mmHg and 21 mmHg. An elevated eye pressure is the most important risk factor and indicator for glaucoma. Eye pressure can vary with a number of factors including exercise, heart rate, breathing rate, fluid intake, and some medication. Alcohol intake leads to a slight decrease in eye pressure and caffeine may increase eye pressure. A difference in pressure between the two eyes is often important, and can be linked to certain types of glaucoma, inflammation of the iris, or retinal detachment.


VITALs SCREENING

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.

The top, higher number tells you the amount of force pushing against your artery walls when the heart is contracting (systolic) and the bottom, smaller number tells about the heart at rest (diastolic).

You can have high blood pressure (hypertension) for years without any symptoms. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. You should have your blood pressure checked at least every two years from the age of 18.

Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index (BMI) is an equation that gives you a numerical rating of your health based on height and weight. As your BMI goes up, so does your risk of developing weight-related diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. BMI is a fairly reliable indicator of the percentage of body fat for most people and allows people to compare their own weight status to that of the general population. Although it is widely used, it can be inaccurate for people who possess increased muscle mass and bone density. A recommended BMI range is 18.6 to 24.9.

Body Fat Percentage

Body fat percentage is simply the percentage of fat your body contains. If you weigh 140 pounds and are 10% fat, it means that your body consists of 14 pounds fat and 126 pounds lean body mass (bone, muscle, organ tissue, blood...).

A certain amount of fat is essential to bodily functions. Fat regulates body temperature, cushions and insulates organs and tissues and is the main form of the body's energy storage. If body fat levels get too high, it can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and many types of cancers.

Waist Measurement

The measurement of the waist circumference (distance around the waist) provides information regarding where fat is stored in the body. Having extra body fat around the stomach can affect your health. A man has a higher risk of health problems if his waist size is more than 37 inches.

Waist-to-Height Ratio

Using the waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) may be better than BMI to check if you’re at a healthy weight for your height, as it focuses on the main culprit—abdominal/visceral fat, the type of fat that tends to surround the vital organs and is extremely unhealthy. This excess belly fat increases the risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease.

The WHtR is obtained by dividing your waist size by your height in inches. For example, if you’re 5’8”, you’d aim to have a waist size of 34 inches. A normal ratio is 0.48-0.52 – waist is approximately half your height.

Heart Rate

A normal average resting heart rate, or beats per minute, is around 72, with a range of 60-100 beats per minute considered normal. For healthy adults, a lower heart rate at rest generally implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness.

Many factors can influence heart rate, including: activity level, fitness level, air temperature, body position (standing up or lying down, for example), emotions, body size and medication use. Consult your doctor if your resting heart rate is consistently above 100 beats a minute (tachycardia) or if you're not a trained athlete and your resting heart rate is below 60 beats a minute (bradycardia) — especially if you have other signs or symptoms, such as fainting, dizziness or shortness of breath.


Depression Screening

The Beck Depression Screening (BDI) is a 21-question multiple-choice self-report inventory, one of the most widely used instruments for measuring the severity of depression. The questionnaire is composed of items relating to symptoms of depression such as hopelessness and irritability, cognitions such as guilt or feelings of being punished, as well as physical symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss and lack of interest in sex. The BDI collates patients' verbatim descriptions of their symptoms and using these to structure a scale which could reflect the intensity or severity of a given symptom.

The Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) is a multipurpose instrument for screening, diagnosing, monitoring and measuring the severity of depression. The questionnaire is composed of items relating to symptoms of depression such as hopelessness and trouble concentrating, as well as physical symptoms such as fatigue, sleep habits and appetite. The results are given a value and added to see if treatment is recommended.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and is the cause of death for 22 veterans each day. Ninety percent of those who die by suicide had an underlying mental illness, which means they were preventable.


HIV Testing

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted disease that affects the immune system. Unlike other viruses, our bodies cannot get rid of HIV. In other words, once the body has HIV, it stays there for life. HIV destroys the immune system, and prevents the body from fighting of other viruses and diseases. If left untreated, HIV can develop into Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is life-threatening. Testing is simple; a quick finger prick and blood test will determine if HIV is present in the body. Results are returned within 15 minutes. Testing is anonymous and confidential.


Dental Screening and Oral Examinations

Screening for oral cancer may be done during a routine check-up by an oral surgeon, dentist or dental student. The exam will include looking for lesions, including areas of leukoplakia (an abnormal white patch of cells) and erythroplakia (an abnormal red patch of cells). Leukoplakia and erythroplakia lesions on the mucous membranes may become cancerous. If lesions are seen in the mouth, the patient will be given information for a referral. A visual dental screening will also be performed by supervised dental students to identify conditions that might need further assessment and treatment.

Screening is also done for HPV lesions. The same types of HPV that infect the genital areas can infect the mouth and throat. HPV found in the mouth and throat is called “oral HPV.” Some types of oral HPV (known as “high risk types”) can cause cancers of the head and neck area. Oral HPV is about three times more common in men than in women.


EKG SCREENING

An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a painless, noninvasive way to diagnose many common types of heart problems. By measuring time intervals on the EKG, a doctor can see how long the electrical wave takes to travel from one part of the heart to the next and determine if the electrical activity of your heart is normal or slow, fast or irregular. Your doctor will also be able to tell if parts of the heart are too large or are overworked by measuring the amount of electrical activity passing through the heart muscle.


Flu Vaccines

Influenza (“flu”) is a contagious disease that spreads around the U.S. every year, usually between October and May. The flu is caused by influenza viruses, and is spread mainly by coughing, sneezing and close contact. Each year thousands of people in the U.S. die from the flu, and many more are hospitalized. A flu vaccine can keep you from getting the flu, make the flu less severe if you do get it, and keep you from spreading the flu to your family and other people.

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