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Research / Guides

Reviewed By: Dr. Kurt Kloss, MD
Last Reviewed Date: Sep 30, 2019
Last Modified Date: Sep 30, 2019
Published Date: Jan 02, 2019

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 1: What Lab Testing Can Determine About You Chapter 2: The 10 Blood Tests You Need To Ensure Optimal Health Chapter 3: Metabolic Disorders Surprises: An example of Wellness Testing Chapter 4: Our Research Chapter 5: Lab Test Documentation


What Lab Testing Can Determine About You

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Just what can your doctor determine about you by ordering lab tests? Lab test results can tell you and your doctor a lot about your health and well-being, helping to detect health risks, diagnose diseases, infections and health conditions. In many cases, these provide information that helps you improve your health. Of course, what blood testing can determine about you depends on the specific tests performed. Below is more information about what some lab tests can reveal.

Common Health Concern Guides and Resources

The 10 Blood Tests You Need To Ensure Optimal Health

The human body contains a complex set of systems working together to regulate physical and mental functioning. Essential processes, such as the metabolism and absorption of nutrients from food, blood oxygenation and efficient brain function, all involve complex chemical reactions. The key to health and well-being for both mind and body is balance. When the balance of any one of these systems is off, both physical and mental health are at risk. Blood testing offers information you need to help restore that balance.

Lipid Panel – This blood test series checks triglycerides and cholesterol levels, including both high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. Too much cholesterol can threaten health, elevating risks of stroke and cardiac disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), often there are no overt symptoms of high cholesterol, which affects approximately 71 million people in the U.S. Testing can catch cholesterol problems early, while lifestyle changes are still able to set things right.

Thyroid Function – Efficient thyroid function is essential to metabolism and overall health. The thyroid regulates how the body uses energy and influences cholesterol levels. It also impacts brain function, menstruation, body temperature, muscle tone and strength, skin condition, and the functioning of the respiratory, circulatory and nervous systems. When thyroid function is too high or too low, serious health problems can result.

Complete Blood Count – This panel measures the amount of red blood cells, their size and hemoglobin ratios, as well as infection-fighting white blood cells and platelet count. This test tracks blood disorders, like anemia and blood clotting disorders, is used in diagnosing certain autoimmune disorders and infections, and can highlight some dangerous nutritional deficiencies.

Sex Hormones – Deficiencies or imbalances of sex hormones can have wide-ranging effects on health and well-being. In addition to impacting sexual health and performance, imbalances of these hormones are associated with a number of health conditions, including obesity, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, hypertension, high cholesterol and type II diabetes.

Comprehensive Metabolic Panel – A set of 14 tests that measure liver and kidney function, along with the levels of protein, calcium, blood sugar, calcium and electrolytes. This provides a look at the chemical balance of your body and your overall metabolism.

C-reactive Protein – This tests for inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is connected with a number of diseases via clinical studies, including rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers, periodontitis, hay fever and atherosclerosis. However, noting the number of other diseases, like Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and heart disease, that seem to be related to inflammation, researchers are delving deeper into the connections between chronic inflammation and disease.

Breakdown of complete blood countanatomy of cardiac disease

Hemoglobin A1C – This tests blood sugar levels by measuring the number of red blood cells with glucose-coated hemoglobin. Uncontrolled high blood sugar can lead to diabetes. In people already diagnosed with diabetes, consistently high blood sugar elevates the risk of diabetes complications, including damage to liver and kidneys, heart disease, stroke, and eye disease.

Vitamin Profile – Vitamins are essential to the proper function and health of every bodily system, organ and cell, impacting physical, cognitive and emotional health. The body of clinical evidence pointing to the role of nutrition in maintaining physical and mental health grows steadily, as does evidence that nutritional therapies can also help prevent diseases. The wisdom of blood testing to pinpoint and resolve suspected deficiencies is clear.

Coenzyme Q10 – This fat-soluble enzyme is essential in the chemical processes that provide energy for cells. Produced naturally by the body, CoQ10 is vital to virtually all bodily organs, systems and functions. Levels of CoQ10 in the body often fall after age 40, the body gradually becoming less efficient at producing it, a decrease accelerated by certain medications, particularly statins.

Magnesium – Magnesium is vital to hundreds of essential chemical reactions in the body. It has a part in cell communication, providing energy for cells, and in the structure of chromosomes, cell membranes and bones. Deficiency is associated with several diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis and can also adversely impact calcium and Vitamin D utilization and levels, making it worth testing.

As you, in partnership with your physician, strive to maintain optimal health and well-being, blood testing can be a powerful tool. By monitoring your overall health through these simple tests, potential health risks can be caught and addressed early, before they progress into health problems that can affect your quality of life.

Metabolic Disorders Surprises: An example of Wellness Testing

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Metabolism is the process by which your body transforms the foods you eat into the substances it needs to fuel the countless complex systems and processes that keep you alive. When all is running smoothly, that will keep you healthy and strong. Given the importance of metabolism to health and well-being, metabolic disorders – or defects in the metabolic process – can cause a wide range of problems. Here we'll discuss types of metabolic disorders and some of the problems they can cause – including some of the more surprising and unusual issues – as well as how blood tests, including metabolic panels, can help diagnose them.

1. Metabolic Syndrome Is Happening In Children

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic risk factors that can lead to serious health issues, such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes. These include excessive abdominal fat, high blood pressure, high triglyceride and/or high cholesterol levels, and high blood sugar. While metabolic syndrome has traditionally been considered an adult problem, it is becoming common in kids, with an estimated 1 in 10 teens and 5 percent of second and third graders suffering its effects.

2. Watching Too Much TV Increases Diabetes Risk

In a 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that each two-hour-a-day increase in the time spent watching TV; an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes was up by 14 percent. According to the study authors, this association held true even after adjusting for factors that included age, smoking, exercise levels and dietary factors, among others.

3. Diabetes Can Cause Your Eyesight to Change Day-To-Day

Most people are aware that diabetes can cause complications that lead to serious eye problems. What is not so well-known is that the blood glucose fluctuations that occur with this metabolic disorder can change the ability of the crystalline lens in the eye to maintain a sharp focus, affecting how well a person sees from one day to the next.

4. Dark Skin Spots Can Be a Sign of Certain Types of Metabolic Disorders

Metabolic disorders, such as pre-diabetes, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome can cause acanthosis nigricans, which are dark, often velvety, skin spots. Frequently these spots form at the back of the neck or the underarms, but they can appear most anywhere on the body.

5. Hyperthyroidism (Over-active Thyroid) Can Make You A Nervous Wreck

Hyperthyroidism is a metabolic disorder caused by overproduction of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland – which regulates the body's rate of metabolism. Excessive amounts of these hormones speeds overall metabolism, accelerating virtually all body processes. This can affect the nervous system, causing a person to feel anxious, nervous and irritable.

6. Hypothyroidism (Under-active Thyroid) Can Make You Tired, Depressed

Hypothyroidism, which is when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormones, slows the overall rate of metabolism. This can affect virtually all aspects of health, including emotional health, leading to overwhelming fatigue and depression.

7. Some Types of Metabolic Disorders Can Change How You Smell

Trimethylaminuria, commonly called fish odor syndrome, is a rare disorder that is caused by an inability to metabolize certain compounds in foods. The result is a buildup of those compounds in the body, which causes body fluids, such as sweat and urine, to carry an odor that resembles that of rotting fish. Maple syrup urine disease, also rare, is a similar condition, resulting from the inability to metabolize certain amino acids. As these amino acids build up in the body, they cause the urine to carry an odor that resembles that of maple syrup.

8. Some Metabolic Disorders Can Make Sunlight Toxic to The Skin

Cutaneous porphyrias are inherited metabolic disorders that interfere with the body's ability to produce heme, a component in hemoglobin (which carries oxygen in the blood) and other iron-containing proteins in the body. Among more prominent symptoms of these disorders is skin that becomes fragile and blisters when exposed to sunlight.

Most metabolic disorders can be controlled with proper diagnosis and treatment. Many common types of metabolic disorders can be detected with a blood test called a metabolic panel test. Among the factors measured by a metabolic panel are levels of glucose, calcium, various proteins, electrolytes, chloride, carbon dioxide, and enzymes and other chemicals related to liver and kidney health, among others, offering a comprehensive overview of how well many crucial bodily systems are functioning. Other tests that may be used to detect certain types of metabolic disorders include lipid panels, which measure levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and genetic testing, which can detect hereditary metabolic disorders.

Our Research

STDs In America: Examining The CDC's Most Recent Std Surveillance Report

Despite the various preventative health care measures available, Americans are only using preventative services at about half the recommended rate. Infections and diseases contracted through sexual activity are highly preventable. Still, STD rates continue to hit record highs. The latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proved 2017 to be the year with the most reported STD cases to date, with rates of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia increasing dramatically.

We analyzed the CDC's 2017 STD Surveillance Report to see which states and demographics are most affected by these rising rates. How have STD rates changed in specific populations over time, and what might be contributing to such changes? Keep reading to find out...

Admitting To Cheating: Exploring How Honest People Are About Their Infidelity

In the United States, it's a common saying that "honesty is the best policy." But research suggests that the average American lies one to two times a day – in fact, one study even found that about 60% of its participants couldn't make it 10 minutes without lying. Although some of these moments might constitute mere fibs, dishonesty and infidelity between couples can cause serious, long-lasting damage to the relationship. About 20% of married men and 13% of married women have cheated, according to the Institute for Family Studies, and yet so little is known about what happens from there.

In search of answers, we surveyed 441 people who admitted to infidelity with their partners. We asked them how long it took to tell their significant other plus why they cheated and how their partner reacted once they found out. Keep scrolling to learn more about how these intense dynamics played out...

Organ Donation In America: Exploring America's Organ Donors By The Numbers

Scientists call organ donations a "social necessity" for a reason: Thousands of lives have been saved since the first human organ was successfully transplanted in 1954. However, Americans in need are still at odds with a tragic reality –every year, the number of organ donations are far outnumbered by the number of people whose lives depend on them.

We set out to further understand organ donations in the United States by analyzing thousands of data points collected by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). Through this process, we discovered the painfully long line people wait in for a second chance at life. Read on to learn more about those who donate their organs to others, those who are in need, as well as the geography and demographic factors of the American organ donation system...

Investigating Which States Have Made the Most Progress Against HIV/AIDS

It’s been nearly three decades since NBA legend Magic Johnson announced to the world that he was HIV-positive. Johnson’s announcement in November 1991 was assumed by many to be a death sentence for the Basketball Hall-of-Famer, and there was widespread false belief that only gay or bisexual men could contract HIV through sex.

The world has changed a lot in the 28 intervening years. Public understanding of HIV and AIDS has grown, and enormous strides in the treatment and prevention of both the virus and the disease it causes have meant that thousands of people, Magic Johnson included, are living normal, healthy lives despite having contracted HIV...

Where Is Fentanyl Claiming the Most Lives?

From its early days when it was considered a breakthrough of pharmaceutical science to its current role in the opioid crisis gripping the United States, fentanyl has drawn widespread attention. The drug was developed in the early 1960s by Belgian chemist Paul Janssen, and though it would take about 50 years for fentanyl to catch on as a street drug in the U.S., once the powerful painkiller arrived, it didn’t take long for it to become one of the chief contributors to drug overdose deaths in the United States.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that fentanyl and its derivatives contributed to almost half of all drug overdose deaths in 2018, which equates to thousands of lives taken by a drug that for decades was used to help cancer patients cope with agonizing post-surgical pain...

Women's Health in America

When it comes to women's health care in America, contradictory indicators and continuing controversy frame public debate. While recent years have seen millions of American women obtain health insurance coverage, many remain unable to afford copays associated with common procedures. And though rates of chronic illness have fallen among female adults over the last decade, U.S. women are far more likely to fall ill than their counterparts in other wealthy nations around the world. Simultaneously, a wide body of research suggests that women struggle to be heard by their doctors, finding their concerns dismissed unjustifiably by biased health care providers.

We set out to explore the state of women's health care across the country, emphasizing issues of access that affect women of all ages. To do so, we scrutinized the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a large-scale annual study of common medical concerns and health care access. Our findings reveal stunning discrepancies in care and significant areas of potential improvement. To learn what we uncovered, keep reading...

Lab Test Documentation: Example Requisitions, Test Results and Interpretations

More Sample Test Results

References:

Harvard Medical School. (2014). 4 important blood tests for women-and what the results mean. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/4-important-blood-tests-for-women-and-what-the-results-mean

Heart-health screenings. American Heart Association. Retrieved from: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Heart-Health-Screenings

LeBlond RF, et al., eds. Common laboratory tests. In: DeGowin's Diagnostic Examination. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. www.accessmedicine.com

Lipoprotein metabolism profile. Mayo Medical Laboratories. www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/83673

National Library of Medicine. Porphyria. Genetics Home Reference. Retrieved from: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/porphyria

Porphyria. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved from: www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/porphyria