8 May 2023

Are at-home blood tests accurate?

Are at-home blood tests accurate?
Medically reviewed by Dr Anojan Arulananthan, MBBS, BSC

At-home blood tests are everywhere right now. They help pinpoint underlying conditions, plus they’re quick, private and done in the comfort of your own home – what’s not to like?

If you’re considering ordering an at-home blood test kit online, you need to know how reliable they are before you part with your hard-earned cash.

So, how accurate are at-home blood test kits? And can anything impact their results?

Read on to find out the ins and outs of home blood testing and what to expect when you first take one.

What do at-home blood tests pick up?

Generally, at-home blood tests can pick up many different conditions and deficiencies.

Some examples of things at-home blood tests can pick up include:

Diabetes risk

A diabetes test measures your blood sugar levels to find out whether you have diabetes or are at risk of developing it.

Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D is necessary for your bone health, mood and immunity. A vitamin D test can flag up if you’re lacking.

    High cholesterol

    A cholesterol test measures the different types of cholesterol in your body. Too much bad cholesterol can clog up your arteries, so it’s vital to know your levels.

    Anaemia

    Low iron levels can cause iron deficiency anaemia, making you feel cold, tired and lightheaded. An iron blood test can help rule this out.

    Inflammation

    Inflammation is your body’s process of protecting itself from infection, injury and illness. Tests that check for inflammatory biomarkers can help show whether inflammation is present in your body.

    Underactive (or overactive) thyroid

    Problems with your thyroid gland can lead to tiredness, low mood and weight issues. A thyroid blood test checks for any underlying issues.

    Are at-home blood tests recommended by doctors?

    On the NHS, everybody over 40 is entitled to the NHS Health Check every 5 years.

    But what if you’re under 40, between health checks, or just curious about what's going on inside your body?

    Good news: an at-home blood test can be a helpful alternative instead.

    How reliable are at-home blood tests?

    At-home blood tests are reliable, but there are a few things to bear in mind.

    The main thing that can make an at-home blood test unreliable is if the sample takes too long to get to the lab.

    If you forget to post your test back right away, then your blood can clot, making it harder to interpret your results. Basically, clotting is excellent when you’re bleeding out, but not so great when it happens in a test tube.

    To stop this from happening, post your sample back ASAP on the same day you take your test.

    Can you do a full blood test at home?

    Yes, you can! It’s important to remember, though, that there’s no gold standard for what a ‘full’ blood test means.

    Many brands will test for several different biomarkers in various combinations.

    Our General Wellness blood test, for example, checks your liver function, kidney function, muscle and bone health, iron levels, cholesterol levels and diabetes and gout risk.

    How do at-home blood tests work?

    At-home blood tests are generally finger prick tests.

    This means you take a small blood sample from your fingertip, usually first thing in the morning.

    Our at-home blood tests work like this:

    1. Order your blood test kit from the H&B&Me website
    2. Receive your test kit and activate it on the app
    3. Follow the instructions in the kit to take your sample
    4. Post your sample back to us on the same day
    5. Check back in-app to see your results and accompanying doctor’s report in 24-48 hours

    We’ll let you know if any of your results are out of the normal range. We’ll also recommend you speak to your GP to rule out anything serious and get treatment early.

    What can impact blood test results?

    There’s a lot that doctors can tell from a blood test, but some factors affect the accuracy of your results.

    Read more about what can impact your blood test results.

    Can blood tests sometimes be wrong?

    It’s pretty rare for blood tests to be wrong. You can never say never, though.

    In the slight chance your home test kit results are wrong, it’s usually down to a human error in the lab.

    The good news? Our partner lab follows a rigorous testing process.

    Based out of a state-of-the-art facility in Battersea, the team delivers thousands of test results daily. Basically, they know their stuff, and human error is kept to an absolute minimum.

    On the other hand, if you’re concerned about an abnormal result and hoping it’s wrong, that’s completely understandable too. But try not to worry.

    Results outside the normal range are more common than you’d think, and they don’t necessarily mean there’s a problem.

    If the doctor who reviews your results thinks you should follow up with your GP, they’ll tell you in their report.

    Your own doctor can help you understand your results in more detail and if needed, make a plan of action. This could be as simple as reassuring you, suggesting some supplements, or referring you for more tests. 

    The final word

    At-home blood tests are highly accurate when they’re done correctly. However, there are a few things that can impact their reliability.

    If you do an at-home blood test, make sure you do it first thing in the morning, avoid exercise before your test, and send your sample back the same day.

    And finally, just because your result might be out of the normal range, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem.

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