Archive for the ‘Inflammation’ Category

Blood Pressure – Watch your Numbers

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Blood pressure is self explanatory: it is the pressure of the blood in the circulatory system.Your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers:

  • Systolic blood pressure (the upper number) — indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.
  • Diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) — indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.

It is important that your systolic blood pressure (upper number) remain under 120 rather than just below 140 because it reduces your risk of heart failures or strokes by 33%. Often times when people are trying to lower their blood pressure they always go to drugs right away, but lifestyle changes can be just as effective and permanent. People with high blood pressure typically don’t exercise, are overweight, store fat in their bellies, eat a lot of sugary/fried food, and/or have low levels of vitamin D. Changing eating habits and staying active can go a long way when trying to lower your blood pressure. The best time to check your blood pressure is before you go to sleep at night or right after you wake up because these times are when your blood pressure is the lowest, so if it is above 120 during these times then you should make some lifestyle changes.

Click here for the American Heart Association suggestions on how to take your blood pressure readings.

Generally, physicians are more concerned with the systolic blood pressure (the top number) because it is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50.   As you age, the systolic blood pressure can rise due to increased stiffness in the large arteries and build-up of plaque. There is also risk of high diastolic measurements also:  the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic or 10 mm Hg diastolic increase among people from age 40 to 89.

The following are a few recommendations to help lower your blood pressure:

  • Limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks a day, and if possible avoid it
  • Avoid sugary/fried foods
  • Exercise, build muscle
  • Keep Vitamin D levels above 75 nmol/L
  • Try not to consume red meats or processed meats & foods
  • Try to avoid smoking and reduce your exposure to air pollutants

Take control of your health!


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I have an Abnormal CBC, Now what?

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A Complete Blood Count (CBC) checks your white blood cell count, red blood cell count, hemoglobin, hematocrit, platelet count, lymphocytes, monocytes, neutrophils, and eosinophils. An abnormal CBC result can mean many things and your doctor may want additional testing, in conjunction with a physical exam, to determine why your results are out of range:

  • Abnormal white blood cell count could mean that you have a virus, so your doctor could ask you to get a strep test or a test for mononucleosis. There is also a chance you may have inflammation so your doctor may want a Sedimentation Rate (ESR) or C-Reactive Protein (CRP) test to help pinpoint the issue.
  • An out of range red blood cell count mean may warrant a vitamin B12 and folate, and/or a reticulocyte test to determine if there is anemia
  • Abnormal platelet results may require you to get tests to further assess your platelet count such as a platelet function test. There is also a probability that you have a bleeding or excessive clotting disorder

test tube blood

There may be other reasons why your CBC test came back with some abnormal results like leukemia, or other bone marrow disorder, despite being rare, so it is important that you speak to your physician about your results.

Take control of your health!  Order your own discount blood lab tests at www.HealthOneLabs.com and stay healthy.


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Sedimentation Rate

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Sedimentation rate or erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is a blood test offered to show the inflammation in your body. Inflammation is your body’s self-protecting response to get rid of harmful stimuli, however chronic inflammation is terrible for your body and can cause many diseases. This test can be done to diagnose or monitor inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. When your blood is drawn it is placed in a tube and your red blood cells slowly settle to the bottom of the tube.  Inflammation often causes the blood cells to clump, thus making them denser causing them to sink to the bottom at a faster rate. The sedimentation rate test measures inflammation by how fast the red blood cells fall in one hour. The farther the blood cells have fallen, the greater the inflammation in your body. Your doctor might request you get a sedimentation rate test in order to monitor your arthritis, to assess unexplained fevers, or to diagnose conditions like Giant cell arteritis. Because this test does not pinpoint the cause of your inflammation, it is often accompanied with other blood tests. The sedimentation rate test is offered at www.HealthOneLabs.com for $34.95, there is no special preparation required for this test.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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Whenever people think of fats they automatically assume they’re not good for them, but that’s not always the case. There are well known healthy fats and they are called unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are either monounsaturated and polyunsaturated and they help decrease disease risk. Omega-3 fatty acids are an example of the healthy fats. They are a crucial for your health and development, but your body does not produce it so the only way to get it is by consuming foods high in Omega 3s.They can be found in sardines, salmon, anchovies, and herring.

omega 3 imageIt can help reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and depression. Fish also contains proteins, selenium, and vitamin D that are beneficial for the body. It is important to get a good ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 which is another essential fatty acid. You should aim to eat a bit more of Omega-3s because it helps reduce inflammation and Omega-6s promote inflammation. It is recommended you get at least 2 servings of fish and 1 serving of oily (dark meat) fish.

Need to know if you are getting sufficient fatty acids?  Test your levels.

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Four Cancer Myths

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There are many misconceptions about what causes cancer. Having misconceptions and misinformation causes needless worries that can create anxiety and worry. Nowadays you hear information in the news about all the possibilities that have potential cancer causing qualities.  Here are some common cancer fallacies:

  1. Sugar doesn’t necessarily “feed” cancer. Yes it is true that many cancer cells take up blood sugar more quickly than healthy cells, but all cells in our body require sugar for sustenance. Avoiding sugar completely doesn’t guarantee you that you won’t get cancer. As a matter of fact, blood sugar comes from foods with carbs too. It is important to maintain your blood sugar and insulin at healthy levels to maintain proper health and to avoid diabetes and other diseases that can have negative effects on your health.
  2. Going on a gluten-free diet does not reduce the chances of getting cancer. Gluten can be found in wheat, triticale, and barley and is actually a source of protein. Research shows that avoiding gluten does not reduce risk of cancer whatsoever. Not consuming gluten can actually cause you to miss out on their anti-inflammatory, whole grain, cancer protective fiber.  Of course, if you are gluten intolerant or have celiac, you should avoid all gluten to maintain your health.
  3. You don’t have to eat a ton of fruits and vegetables to reduce cancer risks. Many think that in order for fruit and vegetable consumption to reduce chances of getting cancer you have to eat an impossible amount of it daily. In reality you only have to eat 5 servings a day for it to help reduce risks of getting cancer. You should aim to eat about 2 ½ cups of various fruits and vegetables. Eating a variety of different fruit and vegetables adds different phytochemicals and nutrients which may have cancer protecting qualities.
  4. You don’t have to go vegetarian. Plant rich diets are linked to lower cancer risk, but that doesn’t mean you can only eat plants. You can still eat poultry, fish, dairy, and meat –  like everything, eat those foods in moderation. A good option would be the Mediterranean diet which is plant based, and also includes smaller portions of meats, poultry, dairy, etc.

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Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA) Blood Test

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When exposed to a pathogen, your body’s immune system creates antibodies in order to fight the infection. However, a specific kind of antibody, antinuclear antibodies, actually do damage to your body because they attack your tissues, targeting cells’ nucleus.

anti-nuclear-antibodiesAn ANA blood test can determine the amount of antinuclear antibodies in your blood. A positive ANA result may indicate that your immune system has a misdirected attack to your tissue, which doesn’t necessarily mean you have a disease or are unhealthy. A few reasons why you might have to get an ANA test is to see if you have

  • Lupus,
  • rheumatoid arthritis,
  • Other auto-immune diseases

Obtaining an ANA test can be helpful because it may rule out some diseases. If ANA results are positive, it may prompt your physician to conduct additional blood tests to determine which specific type of antinuclear antibodies are present to determine if you have a certain disease. Some blood tests require special preparations such as fasting, but the ANA does not. You may want to let your physician know the medications you take because certain drugs can compromise the accuracy of the blood test.

Remember that a positive ANA result doesn’t necessarily mean you are unhealthy:

  1. women 65 years or older tend to have positive ANA and are also perfectly healthy.
  2. Some chronic infectious diseases have been associated with antinuclear bodies such as mononucleosis.
  3. There are some medications that may trigger the creation of antinuclear antibodies like blood pressure lowering medication and some anti seizure medication.

As you can see there are a number of things that may cause antinuclear antibodies to be formed in your body. The ANA test may be one piece of information your physician needs in order to figure out why you are showing the symptoms that you are.


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Controlling Inflammation levels

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Inflammation is the body’s reaction to infections and it occurs to protect your body and  keep it healthy. There are two types of inflammation that may happen in your body: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation would be the “good” type of inflammation, as it helps your body heal by sending white blood cells to the troubled area. Acute inflammation also doesn’t last very long because your body typically heals quickly. Chronic inflammation does the opposite of acute inflammation, the white blood cells burn through healthy tissue or organs instead of healing your body. It is important to have your inflammation levels tested by getting a C-reactive protein blood test (CRP).  The CRP will be elevated if your body is dealing with inflammation.

The CRP test is not diagnostic, but it does provide relevant information to your health provider if inflammation is present.  The test results, along with other information from a physical exam can determine if there is acute or chronic inflammation occurring in the body.

Diet and exercise are the primary ways to beat inflammation.  Try to avoid processed foods which contain high amounts of sugar and fats.  Increase your level of activity.  This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours at the gym everyday.  Adding activity can be as simple as decreasing the amount of time you spend sitting, increasing walking and other activities throughout the day.

The CRP test is offered on our website: www.HealthOneLabs.com. You may read more about inflammation in this article.


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Fighting Inflammation with Food!

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Body inflammation is caused when the body senses a stimuli such as an injury or infection. Prolonged inflammation can damage many things in the body like tissue, joints, and organs. What many people don’t know is that there are many foods that can help decrease inflammation. For example; foods that are high in fiber, whole grains, good fats and omega-3s.

good fats and grains images

Fiber

Fiber helps to reduce inflammation because it helps to balance sugar levels, thus decreasing inflammation. High levels of sugar in your blood triggers inflammation, and inflammation increases your sugar levels; it is a vicious cycle. Fiber also lowers cholesterol, and prevents small blood clots. It is recommended that women 50 or older get at least 21 grams of fiber a day and men over 50 get at least 30 grams a day. There are many foods rich in fiber like beans, dark green vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole fruits and whole grains.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are imperative when attempting to reduce inflammation because they are high in fiber. Whole grains help increase HDL cholesterol levels and decrease LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. It is advised to consume 16 grams of whole grains a day but it is important to make sure you are buying whole grains as opposed to multigrain. Some examples of whole grains are brown rice, oatmeal, and barley.

Good Fats

Unsaturated fats are crucial for “good” health because not only do they reduce inflammation but they also lower your cholesterol and give you a steady heartbeat. About 30% of your daily calorie intake can come from these unsaturated fats. There are 2 types, Monounsaturated fats and Polyunsaturated fats. These can be found in nuts, seeds, fish,  and certain oils such as olive or sunflower oil.

Omega-3s

Finally, Omega-3 fatty acids help with many things, one of them being reducing inflammation in the body. The 3 types of Omega-3s are Eicosapentaenoic acid(EPA), docosahexaenoic acid(DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid(ALA). EPA and DHA primarily come from fish and ALA can come from vegetable oils, walnuts, and leafy vegetables. Once digested, the body turns ALA into DHA and EPA. You should get Omega-3s from cold-water fish like salmon, herring, sardines, and tuna. It is important to eat fish at least twice a week to make sure you are getting these Omega-3s.

Some discount blood tests that can assist with diagnosing inflammation:

  1. Complete Blood Count
  2. Cardio C-reactive protein
  3. Sedimentation Rate, Modified Westergren
  4. Rheumatoid Factor
  5. Antinuclear Antibodies

Or order our Inflammation test panel for an economical way to get all the tests above plus additional screening tests to help determine if you have inflammation.

Take care of your health!


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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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