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Blood tests

Regular blood tests sound rather drastic, but they are a simple way of avoiding future problems.

The main purpose is to pick up side effects from long term medication early, but they also assess inflammation.

Blood test monitoring

Who needs blood test monitoring and how often?

Usually it is those who are put onto long term medication. This may include methotrexate, azathioprine, sulphasalazine, leflunomide, cyclosporin, cyclophosphamide, anti-TNF and lisinopril.

The frequency of tests depends on the drug and how long it has been taken.
For methotrexate, azathioprine, sulphasalazine, leflunomide and cyclosporin, we usually recommend:

  • A test two weeks after starting
  • Monthly blood tests for six to twelve months (3-6 months for sulphasalazine)
  • The frequency of tests often decreases to every 2-3 months after this time, as long as there have been no abnormal results requiring a change in medication

A blood test is generally performed every six to twelve months if ibuprofen is given regularly.

Anti-TNF therapy is usually monitored three monthly.

Drug monitoring

Who does the blood tests and what is required?

Most of our patients have their blood taken at their family doctor's practice. Sometimes the family doctor arranges for the blood to be taken at the local hospital. All blood test results should still go back to the GP.

In general we require a full blood count (FBC), liver function tests, creatinine, and U&Es to monitor medication.

You will need to:

  • Arrange suitable times for the blood tests
  • Request the results to write on the yellow monitoring card (the monitoring card will show a trend in blood tests and help you to pick up abnormalities)
  • Bring the monitoring card to each clinic visit with us

Further information on monitoring is available for GPs, nurses and clinicians in our professionals zone.