“Glucose and leukocytes rise”: how stress distorts human blood tests, said the doctor of the hematology center

Anxiety and stress can significantly affect the results of laboratory tests

Anxiety and stress can significantly affect the results of laboratory tests

A photo: Mikhail FROLOV

Each of us from childhood knows that you need to take blood tests on an empty stomach. However, besides food, there are other factors that can temporarily jump or drop important indicators. This, in turn, causes unnecessary worries (and we have more than enough of them now), unreasonable continuation of examinations.

How to avoid distortions and get the most reliable test results? KP.RU told about this doctor of clinical laboratory diagnostics of the National Medical Research Center (NMIC) of hematology of the Ministry of Health of Russia Alexey Surenkov.


– Alexey, the majority of people both here and all over the world are now in a state of anxiety, nervous tension. Could this have a noticeable effect on blood test results?

– Anxiety and stress can significantly affect the results of laboratory tests. Even the most mundane experience of being late for a procedure, rushing to the doctor in a hurry, can lead to a distortion of the analysis results. Therefore, we always recommend that patients arrive 15-20 minutes early to calm down.

– And if you arrived in advance, you weren’t late, but still you can’t get rid of your worries – the time is now … What indicators in the analyzes are affected by stress?

– First of all, it should be noted that a whole group of “stress hormones” is responsible for the adaptation of the body to stressful situations: cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. All of them will be elevated with anxiety. And it affects the results of other blood parameters.

Prolonged stress can increase thyroid hormones. It is also possible to increase the level of leukocytes in the general blood test.

– Many people are afraid of this, because it is believed that an increase in white blood cells occurs in the presence of infection or latent inflammation. After COVID-19, known for its complications, this is especially frightening.

– Therefore, the doctor should interpret the results of the tests. He establishes a diagnosis based on a combination of various indicators, takes into account the symptoms, etc.

With prolonged chronic stress, a decrease in iron and even the development of iron deficiency anemia are also possible. The functional activity of platelets increases. Therefore, stress is often associated with an increased risk of thrombosis. Also, anxiety can provoke an increase in the level of glucose and cholesterol in a biochemical blood test.


Be sure to tell your doctor not only about physical complaints – somewhere it hurts. But also about the psychological state, prolonged stress, strong feelings. This is important to consider when interpreting laboratory results. “It is known that the imbalance of blood counts under severe stress can persist for up to several months,” notes Alexei Surenkov.


What else affects the results of blood tests

As an expert from the National Medical Research Center for Hematology explains, when interpreting the results of laboratory blood tests, it is important to consider a number of factors:

– gender and age of the patient (for men and women of different age categories, their own norms are determined);

– pregnancy (each trimester has its own criteria);

– phases of the menstrual cycle (when assessing hormonal status);

– taking medications. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of this factor has grown significantly, experts say. People are actively self-medicating, uncontrollably taking pills on the advice of friends or Internet gurus. “Among the drugs that significantly affect the results of blood tests, one can note: antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic drugs, anticoagulants, dietary supplements of dubious composition, etc.,” notes Alexey Surenkov;

– severe lack of sleep, in particular, a sleepless night before the procedure;

– circadian biorhythms: it is known that at different times of the day and night the body is dominated by the production of certain biological substances. Therefore, the time of delivery of tests is also important.

In addition, the peculiarities of nutrition and physical activity on the eve of the test are seriously affected. More about this – in the second part of our material in the near future in the section “Health” on KP.RU.


Six main rules for preparing for the procedure

1. Do not eat 8-12 hours before the test.

2. Do not eat fatty, fried, salty – for 12 hours.

3. Eliminate alcoholic beverages for 24 hours, and preferably 48 hours.

4. Do not smoke for 2 hours.

5. Do not engage in sports and other intense physical activity for 24 hours.

6. Donate blood in the morning. “The norms that you see in the right column of the analysis results form are calculated based on the fact that the patient donates blood for research in the interval from 7 to 11 am,” explains Alexey Surenkov.

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