Longevity blood testing: 8 biomarkers to check
Looking for a longevity blood test? We've assembled a list of the best tests and biomarkers linked to health longevity.
Blood tests give valuable insights into your overall health. But which biomarkers are most important for long-term health and quality of life?
Our guide explains the biomarkers that can help you monitor risk factors so you have a better chance of living longer in good health.
- What four factors affect longevity?
- Is there a longevity test?
- Blood testing and longevity
- Eight biomarkers for longevity
What four factors affect longevity?
How long you live comes down to a mix of environmental and physiological factors, and chance. You can influence some of these risk factors, but not all.
Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability worldwide  . They account for 71% of all deaths worldwide and 79% of all years lived with disability.
Dr Peter Attia studies longevity. He says four main things stop us from living longer, which he calls the four pillars of disease.
Peter Attia’s four pillars of chronic disease (or four horsemen) are:
- Heart disease
- Neurogenerative disease
- Type 2 diabetes (and related metabolic dysfunction)
Attia says it's important to identify and treat chronic disease risk. And it isn’t just important for older adults. You can start making positive changes to help increase your longevity and healthspan at any age. The goal is to lower your chances of getting long-term illnesses or at least delaying their onset.
Is there a longevity test?
No single longevity or healthspan test can predict your life expectancy or reduce your mortality risk. However, screening and blood tests can help to identify health problems before symptoms show, so you can act early.
Then, it’s over to you to make changes to address your risk factors and make healthy life choices – as best you can.
Blood testing and longevity
Think of a blood test for longevity like an MOT. It checks if your biomarkers are within the normal range and looks for indications of infections or imbalances. Your doctor will look at your results to assess your current health and disease risk.
Which blood biomarkers should I test for longevity?
Looking at biomarkers holistically generally gives you a better overview of your health.
As well as a general health check, the blood markers that are linked to longevity include:
- Lipid markers and ApoB:ApoA1 ratio (measure of heart disease risk)
- HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar control)
- Hs-CRP (a marker of low-grade, chronic inflammation)
- Lipoprotein(a) or Lp(a) (related to risk of heart disease)
The good news is that you can improve many of these markers by making healthy lifestyle choices.
Eight biomarker panels for longevity
1. Full blood count (FBC)
A full blood count checks your general health, immune system, and clotting ability. It can pick up anaemia from chronic disease and even some blood cancers. It also checks your white blood cells for signs of recent injury or infection.
2. Lipid panel
A lipid panel measures the amount of certain fat molecules, called lipids, in your blood.
Most lipid panels include:
- HDL cholesterol
- LDL cholesterol
- Non-HDL cholesterol
Doctors will look at these results to help assess your cardiovascular risk. They’ll also work out your total cholesterol:HDL cholesterol ratio. More recent research shows that your triglyceride:HDL cholesterol (TG:HDL) ratio may be even more valuable in assessing your risk of conditions like cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.
What is an ideal lipid panel result?
|Total cholesterol: HDL
Note that your targets are likely to be different if you’re in a higher-risk category for heart disease. For example, if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of heart disease.
3. Apolipoproteins – ApoA1 and ApoB
Apolipoproteins bind to lipids to transport them around the bloodstream. Two important apolipoproteins for overall health are apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA1) and apolipoprotein B (ApoB).
ApoA1 is found in HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps remove excess cholesterol by transporting it from tissues and blood vessels to the liver. The liver then recycles or removes it from the body.
ApoB is found in LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol carries cholesterol to your body’s tissues, but too much of it can lead to fatty plaques in the arteries.
What is an ideal ApoA1 and ApoB result?
Generally, it's best to have a higher ApoA1 result and a lower ApoB result. This is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
4. Inflammation markers
Inflammation is the body's natural reaction to injury, infection, or other substances it thinks could be harmful. Inflammation can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic).
Infection or injury usually causes acute inflammation. Conditions such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, or asthma are likely causes of chronic inflammation.
So why are we interested in inflammation for longevity? Chronic low-level inflammation is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Inflammation markers like high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), alongside other markers like the lipid panel, can help to work out your risk of heart disease.
5. Thyroid hormones
Thyroid imbalances can cause changes in your weight, energy, skin, or hair (to name a few). Identifying a thyroid condition can help you to manage the condition and associated symptoms.
Your thyroid impacts many aspects of your health, including your:
- Reproductive system
- Nervous system
- Cardiovascular system
- Digestive system
- Bone health
A thyroid panel can include:
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
- Free T3
- Free thyroxine
Treating thyroid disease is important to help reduce the risk of conditions like heart disease and osteoporosis.
6. Blood sugar levels
HbA1c is a measure of your average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. When blood sugar is high, glucose binds to haemoglobin to form glycated haemoglobin or HbA1c.
A higher combined glucose level (HbA1c) puts you at greater risk of complications of diabetes and other conditions if left untreated, including:
- Cardiovascular disease — heart attack and stroke
- Kidney disease — kidney failure
- Neuropathy — numbness or altered sensation in the hands and feet
- Retinopathy — visual loss or blindness
Insulin resistance is closely related to diabetes - but it is not the same. Insulin resistance may lead to diabetes, particularly type 2. HbA1c does not directly measure insulin resistance, but it can be estimated by measuring your insulin and fasting glucose levels and using a calculation like HOMA-IR.
7. Liver health and kidney function
Your liver and kidney are both vital organs that help to keep your body functioning and keep you healthy. Your kidneys remove waste products and excess fluid from your blood. Similarly, your liver gets rid of waste and toxins. It also has other jobs like regulating hormones and breaking down food.
Liver disease is the only major disease where death rates are rising. Liver disease deaths have quadrupled since the 70s, while death rates for heart and lung conditions have decreased .
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 3-5 is also rising. It’s expected to increase by 8.3% between 2011 and 2036 .
The liver has amazing powers of regeneration in the early stages of the disease. Unfortunately, the early stages of the disease often don't have symptoms.
Monitoring your kidney function is especially important if you:
- Are diabetic
- Have raised blood pressure
- Have a relative with kidney disease
8. Vitamin and mineral levels
What you eat affects your overall health and how well you age. The right nutrition can lower your risk of many lifestyle-related diseases and help you maintain a healthy weight.
The Mediterranean diet can help to lower your risk of heart disease.
A Mediterranean diet focuses your food intake on wholefoods like:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Healthy fats, specifically extra virgin olive oil
- Wholegrains, like wholewheat bread and brown rice
- Nuts and seeds
- Pulses like beans, chickpeas, and lentils
A balanced diet usually provides you with all the vitamins and minerals you need. Your doctor will let you know otherwise though. One main exception is vitamin D, which you should get from sunshine and/or supplements – depending on the season.
It's time to look after the future you
Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and social interaction can all help you lead a healthier life. There will also be other factors that you consider vital to your health and wellbeing such as a fulfilling career or an enjoyable hobby. The point is that your choices can impact the quality of your health, both now and in the future.
Healthspan is another term you’ll hear within the longevity conversation. Healthspan is all about the years you live in good health, not just how long you live. We talk more about this in our blog: healthspan vs lifespan – what’s the difference?
Blood testing is one tool available to help you understand your current health. Identifying any abnormal biomarkers can help you pinpoint areas of your health to work on.
Our Optimal Health Blood Test is our most comprehensive panel, covering 58 biomarkers.
- WHO. World Health Statistics: Monitoring health for the SDGs, sustainable development goals. (World Health Organization, Geneva 2020).
- Terzic A, Waldman S. Chronic diseases: the emerging pandemic. Clin. Transl. Sci. 2011;4:225–226. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-8062.2011.00295.x.
- Liver disease in numbers – key facts and statistics (2023) British Liver Trust. Available at: https://britishlivertrust.org.uk/information-and-support/statistics/ (Accessed: 28 December 2023).
- Chronic Kidney Disease (2020) GOV.UK. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5a82c379e5274a2e8ab593af/ChronickidneydiseaseCKDprevalencemodelbriefing.pdf (Accessed: 28 December 2023).
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