Posts Tagged ‘Order Your Own Blood Tests’

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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Blood Sugar & Dementia

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Adapted by Wellsource & Tufts University Study. 
Keeping your blood sugar levels under control is a proven practice to help prevent diabetes. A simple blood test can provide you with important information about your fasting blood sugar level, glucose levels, and your risk for diabetes. But there may be other uses for measuring blood sugar than diabetes alone.A new study of seniors shows that keeping blood sugar levels low can help keep your brain healthy and prevent dementia. The Tufts University study included 2,000 seniors, all free of dementia at the start of the study. After nearly seven years of follow-up, 524 people developed dementia.

Among non-diabetics, those who developed dementia had higher fasting blood sugar levels. Those with higher glucose levels were 20 percent more likely to develop dementia.

Among diabetics, the increase in risk of dementia was even higher – 40 percent higher in those with higher blood sugar levels.

Whether you’re diabetic or not, adopting a lifestyle to help control blood sugar levels is good for the brain and may help you avoid developing dementia.

Here are three proven ways to lower your blood sugar:

1. Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, even losing 10 to 15 pounds can help lower blood sugar levels.

2. Get regular aerobic exercise such as brisk walking for 30-plus minutes daily. The exercise helps burn up extra sugar in the blood in both diabetics and non-diabetics.

3. Choose healthy meals – high in fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and legumes. Eat foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and limit red meats and high-fat dairy products. Follow a low-glycemic diet by avoiding soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks. And limit potatoes, white bread, white rice, and other refined grains.

If you are a diabetic, you should monitor your blood sugar levels daily and adopt healthy lifestyle habits to prevent complications from this disease. Your doctor may also adjust your medications to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range, as measured by an A1C level of less than 7 percent.

Source: Tufts University.

 


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When you get a cholesterol test (Lipid Panel), the results show 5 numbers:


1.  Total Cholesterol

2.  Triglycerides

3.  High Density Lipoprotein

4.  Very Low Density Lipoprotein

5.  Low Density Lipoprotein

Many people are just concerned about their Total Cholesterol number but physician’s are increasingly monitoring the other blood lipid numbers to assess overall health.


The Body Needs Cholesterol

Yes, we need to keep our cholesterol in check, but the body needs cholesterol to function.  Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is used for the creation of cell membranes and hormones and it also protects the nerves.  Too much of the waxy substance clogs arteries and increases the risk factor for heart disease.

  • Low Density Lipoprotein has been called, “bad cholesterol” and this number should be low : less than 100.
  • High Density Lipoprotein is called, “good cholesterol because it takes unused cholesterol away from cells to the liver to be excreted.  High levels of HDL can be more efficient at removing excess cholesterol so unused cholesterol is eliminated from the body. Your number should be greater than 60.
  • Triglycerides are the fats that your body uses for energy, so they are necessary, but not in excess.  If your body does not use them for energy, they remain in the blood and can exacerbate hardening of the arteries.  Your number should be less than 150.
  • VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) Cholesterol is the “bad” triglyceride. Elevation represents a risk of heart disease and/or pancreatitis. Your number should be between 5-40.

The lipid panel is the blood test that is used to measure all the cholesterol levels and it is a fasting test.  Most physicians recommend you get tested annually or more frequently if you have certain risk factors.  Also, your physician may recommend a frequent lipid panel test if you are on cholesterol lowering medication to be sure the medication and dosage is working. 

 

www.HealthOneLabs.com for discount lab tests.

 

Take Control of Your Health

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 health care 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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Cholesterol Blood Test – NMR Lipo Test

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So, you had your cholesterol tested recently and some or all of your values are out of the normal range.  We always recommend discussing your lab results with your physician and together you may decide to recheck your cholesterol lipid levels with a more sophisticated test: NMR LipoProfile.

The NMR LipoProfile Test

The NMR LipoProfile test indicates the number of LDL particles (LDL-P).  The blood test is used to assess your risk of cardiac heart disease and a means to provide a protocol to minimize the damaging affects of cholesterol.  Knowing your LDL particle information along with your LDL cholesterol values provides a more complete picture to manage and maintain your heart health.

The NMR LipoProfile test should be used in conjunction with other lipid measurements (e.g. the typical, inexpensive Lipid Panel) to manage cardiovascular disease.

plaque in arteries

Lipid Panel Test

The typical lipid panel, an inexpensive test, is an excellent way to test for the following components and estimating your risk for heart disease:

  1. Total Cholesterol
  2. Triglycerides
  3. HDL Cholesterol
  4. VLDL Cholesterol
  5. LDL Cholesterol
  6. Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio
  7. Estimated Cardiac Heart Disease (CHD) Risk

The NMR LipoProfile test also includes Total Cholesterol, Triglycerides, HDL, but also measures the LDL density pattern.   LDL is what is considered the bad cholesterol and the density pattern provides additional information – small and dense LDL can infiltrate the lining of the artery walls and can aggressively promote plaque formation. It is believed that the smaller, denser LDL particles are more likely to cause clogged arteries than particles that are light and less dense.  The NMR LipoProfile test can provide this additional information.

The NMR LipoProfile test also provides an Insulin Resistance Score.  The score combines information from lipoprotein particle concentration and size to give improved assessment of insulin resistance and diabetes risk.

Should You Get the NMR LipoProfile Test?

If you have any of these factors that contribute to cardiometabolic risk, the NMR LipoProfile test — The Particle Test — may be right for you:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiometabolic risk
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Previous heart attack
  • Family history of heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Low HDL (dyslipidemia)
  • High triglycerides

Take Control of Your Health

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 health care 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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Vitamin B12 and Folate Blood Tests

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What is Vitamin B12 and Folate?

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient from food we eat that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy.  It also assists with making DNA in our cells.  Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient to prevent anemia.

Folate is a water soluble B vitamin that is found in food and helps create and maintain cells including the DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells.  Folate is used to make red blood cells that prevent anemia and it is also essential for the metabolism of the amino acid, homocysteine.

vitamin b12 and folate image resized 600

Why Would I Need a B12 and Folate Blood Test?

Vitamin B12 and folate blood tests are typically ordered when detecting deficiencies or to help determine the cause of certain anemias.  Malnutrition or malabsorption of these vitamins can stem from people that have

  1. alcoholism
  2. liver disease
  3. gastric cancer
  4. celiac disease
  5. Crohn’s disease
  6. IBS
  7. cystic fibrosis

If the body is not absorbing B12 and folate from the diet or insufficient amounts of these vitamins are not being ingested, then the blood lab test will indicate low levels.

Vitamin B12 and folate tests may be ordered along with a Complete Blood Count (CBC) and homocysteine so a physician can provide a correct diagnosis regarding any low test values that show a deficiency.

What Are the Main Causes of Low B12 or Folate?

  • Insufficient ingestion of foods that contain Vitamin B12 and Folate.  This is very uncommon, but it is more prevalent amongst vegans who do not consume any animal products, including milk and eggs.   Most cereals, breads and other grains are fortified, so even vegans will usually get sufficient intake.
  • Malabsorption occurs with conditions that interfere with the absorption of Vitamin B12 or folate in the small intestine.

What are the Symptoms of Low B12 Levels?

The most common symptom of B12 deficiency is anemia which is typically revealed in a simple Complete Blood Count (CBC) test.  Less severe symptoms include:
  • muscle weakness
  • fatigue
  • shakiness
  • unsteady gait
  • incontinence
  • low blood pressure
  • depression
  • cognitive problems (memory)

What are Symptoms of Low Folate Levels?

Low folate levels may take months before any signs or symptoms appear.  Additionally the symptoms are very general and therefore can be signs of other health issues or diseases.
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headaches and difficulty concentrating
  • Palpitations
  • Diarrhea
  • In the early stages, the tongue may be red and painful leading to a smooth shiny surface in the chronic stages of deficiency.

Testing for deficiencies is easy, safe and quick.  Get tested to see if you are at risk.

Take Control of Your Health.

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 health care 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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People are ordering their own lab tests and it is increasingly popular with those that:

  1. Have high deductible insurance policies
  2. Are uninsured
  3. Want confidentiality so it is not reported to their health insurance carriers
  4. Impatient to see a physician or
  5. Do not want to pay for an office visit for a lab test order/prescription

Since the majority of those that are self ordering blood tests are not health professionals, the common question is whether or not they will be able to decipher the data on their lab results.  Unlike an MRI, sonogram or x-ray, lab results are fairly simple to read.  Each test component is listed along with a (1) reference range, (2) your actual values and (3) a flag notification if your values are outside the reference range.

For instance, if you are testing your blood sugar, or glucose, the test results would look like this:

Glucose High graphic

The person’s Glucose level is 196 mg/dL and is flagged as HIGH because the levels should be within the Reference Intervals of 65-99 mg/dL.   Uric Acid, Serum levels are normal and not flagged since they are within the reference interval provided.  Reference Intervals are based upon gender and age and are constantly being updated for the current recommended standards.

So, generally speaking, the lab test results can be easily read by those that order the test.  It is recommended that you establishes a relationship with a health provider that can review your family history, your lab test results and conduct a physical examination to diagnose and further explain your test results.

Go ahead and order those tests yourself – it’s simple, easy and inexpensive and can provide important health information.

Take Control of Your Health.

 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 health care 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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Vitamin D Testing. Is it Necessary?

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It’s well documented that vitamin D is critical in bone remodeling but is also plays a key role in maintaining other aspects of overall health.  Recent research revealed that people with higher levels of vitamin D have reduced the risk in certain cancers including:

  • prostate cancer
  • endometrial cancer
  • skin cancer
  • pancreatic cancer
  • colorectal cancer

Those with decreased vitamin D levels have been linked to an increase risk for the following:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • hypertension
  • autoimmune diseases
  • type 1 diabetes

vitamin d image

Increasing your vitamin D Levels

Both diet and exposure to sunlight are two ways to get vitamin D.  Since the normal diet is relatively low in vitamin D, supplementation may be necessary with D3 pills which are available without a prescription.

Appropriate Test Levels

The levels for Vitamin D are as follows:

  • less than 10ng/mL would be considered Deficient
  • 10-30ng/mL is considered Insufficient
  • 30-100mg/mL is considered Sufficient

Why Get Tested?

It is estimated that up to 50% of the population, is deficient in vitamin D and this could adversely affect their health.  A simple blood test can provide the information you need to see if your are deficient in vitamin D.  The test is inexpensive and you can obtain a discount lab test for under $50.

Take control of your health.

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 health care 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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