Archive for August, 2015

If you are diabetic, you know that it is important to maintain and test your blood sugar levels daily. But did you know that it’s also recommended that you test your hemoglobin A1c levels?

What is hemoglobin A1c?

Hemoglobin is the compound in the red blood cells that transports oxygen. One of the types of hemoglobin is called hemoglobin A (HbA); hemoglobin A1c is a specific subtype of HbA. Molecules of glucose (sugar) in the blood bind to hemoglobin A1c and stay bound to it for months. The higher the amount of blood glucose, the higher the amount of hemoglobin A1c, and by measuring its value, one can obtain their average blood sugar level during the previous 8 to 12 weeks.

Why test hemoglobin A1c levels?

Because it measures average blood glucose levels over a period of two to three months, the hemoglobin A1c blood test is commonly used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Once diagnosed, the A1c test is then used to gauge how well you are managing your diabetes.

This test goes by many other names including glycated hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin, hemoglobin A1c, and HbA1c, but no matter what you call it, if the results show a high A1c level, then your blood sugar is not well-control ed. And if you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, the poorer your blood sugar control, the higher your risk of diabetes-related complications such as kidney failure, vision problems, and leg or foot numbness. (Conversely, the lower your A1c level, the lower your risk for diabetic complications.)

The importance of testing hemoglobin A1c to manage diabetes

The A1c test is known as the “gold standard” for evaluating the risk of damage to tissues caused by high blood sugar levels. It is therefore one of the most useful tools to assess how effectively your diet and your diabetes medication are regulating your blood sugar, and it can help your doctor determine whether your medication needs to be adjusted.

If you are diabetic and want to have better insight into your blood sugar levels, get a hemoglobin A1c test. Discuss this test with your physician if you have further questions.  Remember, if you have diabetes, keeping good control of your blood sugar reduces your risk for long-term health problems, like eye, heart, and kidney problems, and even stroke.

Take control of your diabetes and your health; order your own hemoglobin A1c test every 3 months!

Two websites to take advantage of our discount online blood testing:

www.HealthOneLabs.com for Hemoglobin A1c

www.InquireLabs.com for HemoglobinA1c

Medical Disclaimer:  The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.  The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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As we highlighted last week, there are numerous blood tests that can aid your doctor in diagnosing and/or monitoring your unique health issue. Let’s take a look at some other commonly ordered blood tests.

test tube imagesAutoimmune disease tests

Autoimmune diseases are a group of conditions in which the immune system incorrectly attacks the body’s own normal, healthy tissues. Some commonly known autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, celiac disease, and psoriasis. The autoimmune disease blood tests measure specific antibodies produced by the immune system to attack specific bodily tissues. A few example tests include:

  • Rheumatoid factor (RF): This test detects and measures the RF antibody in the blood. The presence of RF indicates inflammatory and autoimmune activity.
  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA): Ordered when a patient shows signs and symptoms that are associated with systemic lupus erythematosus or another autoimmune disorder.
  • Thyroid antibody: Primarily used to help diagnose an autoimmune thyroid disease and to differentiate from other forms of thyroiditis. It may be ordered to investigate the cause of a goiter, or it may be performed as a follow-up when other thyroid test results (such as T3, T4, and/or TSH) show signs of thyroid dysfunction.

Blood sugar (plasma glucose)

This is the test performed to diagnose diabetes or assess known diabetes patients. Plasma glucose can be tested in two manners: fasting (FPG) or casual (CPG). Tests taken on blood drawn from an arm vein are more accurate than blood from a finger pick test, also called capillary blood glucose.

Sometimes several plasma glucose tests are done over a period of a few hours. This is called a blood sugar series and is usually done to test how well established diabetes patients are able to control their sugar levels.

Plasma glucose sometimes is measured at defined times after the patient drinks a specific amount of glucose in water. This is done either to confirm a diabetes diagnosis (known as the glucose tolerance test [GTT]) or as a screen for gestational diabetes during pregnancy (known as the glucose challenge test).

>> Related: Learn about the Hemoglobin A1c test for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes. (LINK to this blog if it has been posted)

Disease marker tests

Disease marker blood tests monitor the levels of specific chemicals in the blood, which indicate the progress of certain diseases.

  • Prostate specific antigen (PSA): Perhaps the best known of the disease marker tests. Many men with prostate cancer will have elevated levels of PSA in their blood, however, a PSA level within the normal ranges does not mean that prostate cancer is not present. Also, some men with prostate cancer have normal PSA levels.
  • Alpha fetoprotein (AFP): There are two versions of this disease marker test–one is used to monitor for liver cancer; the other monitors testicular cancer.
  • Cancer antigen (CA) 125: Can help detect the presence of ovarian tumors and is used to monitor the progress in ovarian cancer.

Single blood tests

There are a handful of tests that your doctor may order singly. A few examples…

  • Beta human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG): This hormone is produced and is present in the blood in early pregnancy (just one week after conception). It is the basis of the urine pregnancy tests, however sometimes the hCG blood levels are measured if there is a concern about a potential ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy.
  • Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH): Can aid in the diagnosis of pituitary disorders or diseases involving the ovaries or testes. FSH is used to help determine the reason a man has a low sperm count and is also useful in the investigation of menstrual irregularities. In children, FSH and luteinizing hormone are used to diagnose delayed or precocious (early) puberty. Consistently high levels of FSH in a woman can indicate the onset of menopause.
  • Serum Amylase: This is typically ordered for people experiencing severe abdominal pain to see if the pancreas gland is inflamed or if its duct is obstructed.

Two websites to take advantage of our discount online blood testing:

Learn more about these and other value-priced blood tests available through HealthOne by using our convenient search feature. >>

Learn more about these and other value-priced blood tests available through InquireLabs by using our convenient search feature. >>


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There are hundreds (if not thousands!) of reasons why your healthcare provider might order blood tests for you. Abnormal hormone levels, vitamin deficiencies, diseases, and more can be diagnosed by examining different chemicals and molecules within the blood. Let’s take a look at some of the more commonly ordered blood tests.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

This is the go-to test to analyze the three main types of cells within the blood: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Red blood cells contain a molecule called hemoglobin that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues. A CBC shows the number of red blood cells, their size and shape, and the concentration of hemoglobin within each cell. Red blood cells can be low if a person has been losing blood or if they have anemia (low hemoglobin levels). If you are diagnosed with anemia, your doctor will then order more specific tests to determine if your anemia is the result of recent blood loss, low iron levels, or a vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency.

The white blood cells are a key player in the body’s immune system, defending you against potentially harmful organisms. A CBC gives a total white cell count and the percentages of the different types of white cells, which can help your doctor determine what sort of infection your body is fighting (bacterial, parasitic, etc.). Additionally, leukemia, which is a cancer of bone marrow, can be diagnosed if abnormal white cells are present in the blood.

A blood platelet count in the normal range is necessary to ensure the blood clots as it should, preventing excessive blood loss from injuries or surgery. Learn more about the blood factors that help the blood clot properly. >>

test tube blood

Kidney Function Tests

The urea test (or blood urea nitrogen [BUN] test as it is sometimes known) and the creatinine test are the two most commonly order kidney function tests. These two substances are produced during the metabolic process in the body, and it is the kidneys’ job to filter them out of the blood and put them into urine to be excreted out of the body. Elevated levels of urea or creatinine in the blood suggest that the kidneys may not be working properly.

Other common kidney function tests include uric acid levels (raised levels can cause gout), electrolytes (the blood’s levels of potassium and sodium), and calcium and phosphate levels.

Liver Function Panel

The liver converts nutrients into energy for the body and breaks down dangerous toxins. A liver (hepatic) function panel is a blood test to check how well the liver is doing these vital jobs. Your doctor may order a liver function panel if you have symptoms of liver disease like abdominal pain, jaundice, dark urine, and fatigue. This test would also likely be ordered if you have recently been exposed to the hepatitis virus or if you are taking a medicine that could potentially cause liver damage.

The test measures the blood’s level of total protein, albumin, bilirubin, and liver enzymes. High or low levels could be indicative of liver damage or disease.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Blood Tests

A number of STDs (or STIs [sexually transmitted infections], as they are sometimes called) can be diagnosed by using blood tests.

  • Hepatitis: Hepatitis is not always transmitted sexually, so the antibody and antigen testing can be included in the STD tests as well as with Liver Function Tests.
  • Herpes:  Antibodies for this virus can be measured to assess a past or present herpes simplex infection.
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV):  The screening test looks for the presence of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus antibody. It can take time for the body to produce HIV antibodies (up to 6 months after infection), so they may not be detectable early on in an infection. This is why a repeat test may be needed some time after potential exposure.
  • Syphilis: Syphilis has an incubation period of between 9 days and 3 months (the average is 21 days). This test looks for antibodies, which are usually at detectable levels by 6 weeks post-infection. If positive, your doctor will likely recommend a repeat or different test for confirmation.

Thyroid Function Tests

The thyroid gland regulates metabolism in the body. Your doctor may order a thyroid panel if you have symptoms of low thyroid hormone production (hypothyroidism) or high thyroid hormone levels (hyperthyroidism). Sometimes just the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test will be ordered as it can often rule out a thyroid problem. Learn more about how thyroid problems can affect people as they age. >>

Two websites to take advantage of our discount online blood testing:

Learn more about these and other value-priced blood tests available through HealthOne by using our convenient search feature. >>

Learn more about these and other value-priced blood tests available through InquireLabs by using our convenient search feature. >>

 


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