Blood tests play a crucial role in offering insights into our overall health and fitness

In this article, we’ll take a look at the best blood tests for longevity and healthy ageing, as well as some additional scans and tests for longevity. 

What can longevity blood tests tell us about our health?

There are a few ways that blood tests can offer information on longevity. Blood tests can: 

  • Assess our current health status
  • Indicate the presence (or risk) of chronic disease
  • Identify nutrient or mineral deficiencies
  • Assess inflammation levels 
  • Measure hormone levels 
  • Assess markers of cellular health 
  • Assess risk factors for age-related disease 

Specifically, longevity blood tests can look at: 

  • Metabolic health (including cholesterol, glucose, and liver and kidney function)
  • Cardiovascular health 
  • Endurance and recovery 
  • Hormonal health 
  • Inflammation levels 

Longevity testing can help identify risk factors or markers of disease early, giving you time to take action. By correcting any deficiencies and addressing risk factors early, you can help prevent (or delay) the onset of age-related diseases, and safeguard your health as you age

The most important blood tests for longevity

shutterstock 1403753498

Let’s take a look at the most important blood tests for longevity, what they test, and why they’re important. 

Blood glucose

While we might typically associate measuring blood glucose levels with the management (or prevention) of diabetes, blood glucose levels are a useful metric for everyone. 

How efficiently our body metabolises glucose is a key marker of longevity. Even slightly raised blood glucose levels – within a normal range – can impact our health over time. Blood glucose spikes are linked to cardiovascular damage and premature mortality, as well as higher body weight and BMI and increased hunger after meals

There are a few different ways to measure blood glucose levels, including:

    • Fasting plasma blood glucose (FPG) test: Measures blood glucose levels after 8-12 hours of fasting.
    • HbA1c test: Measures blood glucose levels over the last 30 days; doesn’t require fasting.
    • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): Measures blood glucose levels after the ingestion of a high-sugar drink to measure response to glucose.
    • Continuous blood glucose monitoring: Measures blood glucose continually throughout the day – both in those with diabetes and without.  

In addition to functioning as diagnostic tools for diabetes and prediabetes, blood glucose tests can be informative as a measure of overall health. These tests are excellent indicators of metabolic health and insulin sensitivity and can help predict longevity. 

Our on-the-spot HbA1c blood test at My Vital Metrics is a great place to start in understanding your blood glucose levels and diabetes risk. 

Lipid panel 

A lipid panel is a type of blood test that measures your cholesterol. A lipid panel typically includes measures of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. A lipid panel test can assess whether your cholesterol falls into a “normal”, “intermediate” or “high risk” category – this information can be the starting place for making lifestyle changes to reduce your risk and increase longevity.  

In addition to a lipid panel test, you might choose to get more advanced cholesterol measures, such as:

  • Lipoprotein (a) (Lp(a)-P) test: Measures the amount of Lp(a) (a type of cholesterol linked to CVD) in your blood.
  • Apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1) test: Measures the amount of ApoA lipoprotein (a protein that transports HDL cholesterol) in your blood. 
  • Apolipoprotein B (ApoB) test: Also known as the LDL-P test, this measures the amount of ApoB lipoprotein (a protein that transports LDL cholesterol) in your blood. 
  • ApoA: ApoB ratio test: Measures the ratio of  ApoA and ApoB lipoproteins in your blood. 

High cholesterol is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease, which is associated with reduced longevity. While all measures of cholesterol can prove usual, Dr Peter Attia recommends the Lp(a)-P and ApoB tests specifically when it comes to promoting longevity. 

If you’re interested in assessing your risk and increasing longevity, you can assess all these biomarkers through the Optimal Health Blood Test at My Vital Metrics. 

Inflammation markers 

While inflammation is a natural response of the immune system to infection, chronic inflammation can become a problem. 

Chronic inflammation is an ongoing low-level type of inflammation. This can be a symptom of autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and multiple sclerosis (ME), or a side effect of certain lifestyle choices or high levels of stress. 

Chronic inflammation can be dangerous as there may not be any obvious symptoms to begin with, but – over time – high levels of inflammation can wreak havoc on our health. Inflammation has been linked to a wide range of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic respiratory conditions, cancer, and heart disorders. 

You can check on your levels of inflammation with a blood test for C-reactive protein or high-sensitivity C-reactive protein – two biomarkers of inflammation. 

Hormone levels 

Hormones are essential in the day-to-day functioning of the body. Certain hormones also play a role in how well we age, such as thyroid hormones (T4 (free thyroxine) and TSH) and sex hormones (such as testosterone, oestrogen, and progesterone).

In addition to impacting metabolism, thyroid health can have knock-on effects on many other areas of our health, such as our cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, and mental health. A thyroid panel test (or blood test panel that includes this) can screen for markers of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, the two most common thyroid conditions. 

Complete blood count

A complete blood count (CBC) is a basic blood test that takes a look at your overall health. A complete blood count measures the amount of red blood cells, white blood cells, haemoglobin, hematocrit, and platelets in your blood. 

This test can be used to quickly screen for conditions such as anaemia and blood disorders, as well as highlight signs of infection and assess how well your blood clots. There is also research to suggest that cardiovascular and metabolic disorders can be predicted based on CBC metrics. 

While a full blood count won’t directly predict longevity, it’s an important blood test to have done as part of a general health check up

Other types of longevity test

shutterstock 213125530

Blood tests can offer a wealth of information about our health and longevity, but there are other tests that can give additional insights. Let’s take a look at 3 of the top tests for longevity:  

DEXA scan 

The DEXA scan is the gold-standard in body composition analysis. A DEXA scan can tell you a wide range of body composition metrics, including your: 

  • Fat mass & body fat percentage
  • Lean mass & lean mass percentage
  • Visceral fat
  • Fat and lean mass distribution
  • Android: gynoid ratio
  • Bone density
  • Resting metabolic rate (RMR)

When it comes to longevity, the optimal body weight and BMI have been subject to extensive discussion. However, when it comes to body composition, things are a little clearer. Higher lean mass and lower fat mass are both strongly associated with decreased risk of mortality. Specifically, high levels of visceral fat – the “hidden” fat around our organs – are linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and certain cancers. 

There are many ways we can work to improve our body composition, and getting a DEXA scan is a great way to assess where we stand and keep an idea on hidden metrics such as visceral fat. 

VO2 Max test

The gold standard in cardiovascular assessment, the VO2 Max test is a graded exercise test that measures maximal oxygen uptake. 

The VO2 Max is an incredibly important test for longevity, as it has been shown to have an inverse relationship with all-cause mortality – the higher your VO2 Max score, the greater the reduction in risk of death by all causes. 

One of the benefits of measuring and understanding your VO2 Max in the context of longevity is that increasing your VO2 Max is absolutely achievable – and you don’t have to be an elite athlete to see the difference! Even improving from a below average VO2 Max score to an average score is estimated to decrease your risk of mortality over the next decade by as much as 50%. 

Grip strength test 

Our final longevity metric is a bit of a surprising one – grip strength!

Research shows that grip strength is a key metric for predicting longevity, with weak grip strength being consistently linked to faster ageing. In fact, grip strength is such a strong predictor, that it even predicts longevity more successfully than blood pressure.

Curious about how your grip strength stacks up? Book a functional movement assessment to find out. 

Longevity blood testing to outlive your years

An older white couple embraces in an outside setting.

At My Vital Metrics, our Outlive Your Years bundle is specifically designed to target metrics that predict longevity. Inspired by the work of physician and author Dr Peter Attia, the Outlive Your Years bundle is a comprehensive health screen that includes body composition, cardiovascular, and functional strength tests. Want even more detail? Our Optimal Health blood test panel makes a great addition for anyone looking to optimise their health as they age. 

To find out more, or to schedule a free health and fitness consultation, reach out to My Vital Metrics today.