Lab Work and Blood Tests – Everything You Need to Know
Laboratory blood test
Blood tests make up routine and preventative healthcare methods.
How often do you run routine blood work? 1x year? Does your doctor always say “everything looks fine!”
Naturopathic doctors are advocates for routine comprehensive bloodwork to really access and establish a baseline for biochemical and physiological health.
Blood, in particular, can reveal information about organ function, metabolism, lifestyle and habits.
It aids early diagnosis and monitoring of existing conditions and helps doctors track subtle changes in biological markers.
A doctor can ask for blood work if they suspect an underlying disease or before performing a major medical procedure.
Are there specific people who need blood tests done and how often? Read on for more information.
Why is Routine Blood Work Important?
Being proactive with your health is important as we age. In some instances, when a disease state is in progress, sometimes it’s too late to intervene with medical modalities and therapies. Prevention of disease is of utmost importance – but how is it done? Routine blood work that takes a comprehensive look into your biochemistry and tracking of how it changes over time is important to see how the body responds to the daily life stressors and toxins.
Looking at inflammatory markers, lipid metabolism, glucose control, and hormone function is important to see the “normal levels” but also the functionally optimal levels. Optimization is key to one’s internal health – but getting your blood work is important so your naturopathic doctor can take an objective look into your health.
What Would My Naturopathic Doctor Run vs. My Primary Care Doctor?
At LIVV, your naturopathic doctor would run a comprehensive blood panel based on their initial consultation with a patient. Making sure they obtain medical information that would be pertinent into running specific sets of labs for a patient.
For instance, say there’s a patient who has a long history of hypothyroidism and is still feeling symptoms of weight gain, constipation, and hair loss. A naturopathic doctor would run antibodies attacking the thyroid, such as, ANTI-TPO and ANTI-TG. Thus, indicating hashimoto’s thyroiditis which a high percentage of hypothyoid patients have. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is highly linked with celiacs disease, which is an allergy to gliadin or gluten.
A comprehensive look into your blood work is important to really investigate further into a person’s health when they are expressing symptoms and not feeling their best.
A highly trained naturopathic doctor on your medical team is important in 2021, as a different medical perspective backed by scientific research and vast clinical experience.
Blood Test Types
On a routine physical, the doctor may request one of the below tests:
Complete Blood Count (CBC) Test
This test measures various blood components, including
- Red blood cells, hematocrit levels (the space these cells occupy), and MCV (mean corpuscular volume) that looks at their average size.
- White blood cells (neutrophils and lymphocytes)
CBC tests also help physicians pick up blood disorders and diseases like clotting problems, anemia, immune system disorder, infections, and inflammation.
Blood Enzyme Tests
Your body produces enzymes to regulate chemical reactions. A blood enzyme test checks the level of particular enzymes in your body.
Doctors use this test to identify specific health problems. For example, if your doctor suspects heart problems, they may look at cardiac troponin enzyme levels. Hearts typically release this enzyme when they are injured.
Blood Clotting Tests
Also referred to as a Coagulation Panel, this test checks for the protein that aids blood clotting. Doctors order this test if they suspect the patient has a blood clotting disorder.
Similarly, doctors will use specific blood clotting tests on patients using blood thinning medicine as part of routine health monitoring.
A lipoprotein panel test is used to assess a person’s predisposition to coronary heart disease and atherosclerotic problems.
This test reveals
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol level
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol level
- Triglycerides level
- Total cholesterol level
- sdLDL, oxLDL, lp(a) – further indications of cardiovascular health
Results that indicate abnormal levels of triglyceride or cholesterol, mean the patient may be at risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Testosterone (total, free, bioavailable)
- DHT – dihydrotestosterone
- AM Cortisol
- IGF-1 (growth hormone)
- LH & FSH
- Vitamin D
Basic Metabolic Panel
This test measures the levels of chemicals in your plasma. It provides information about your organs, bones, and muscles.
This crucial test looks at:
- Glucose level: high glucose levels are an indication of diabetes or risk of developing diabetes.
- Calcium levels: abnormal levels may signify an underlying condition relating to the kidneys or bones, malnutrition, cancer, or other diseases.
- Kidneys: presence of excess creatinine or blood urea nitrogen in the blood can indicate problems with the person’s kidneys.
- Electrolytes: abnormal electrolyte levels can be a sign of dehydration, kidney problems, or other underlying conditions.
Should You Fast Before Going for a Test
Most doctors recommend fasting prior to sample collection to improve the accuracy of the results. Foods affect parameters like glucose levels, metabolic panels, lipids, and liver function tests.
Typically, 12 hours fasting is suggested, with mornings (right before breakfast) being the best time for sample collection to avoid daytime fasting.
Your physician will advise if you need to fast before the test and for how long.
It’s not just food that can affect your results, stress, illness, medicine, or vigorous exercise are all also contributors.
Discuss any conditions, medication, or activities you undertake with the doctor so they can advise you accordingly.
Are There Any Risks?
Healthcare providers deem blood tests as some of the safest methods of gaining insight into their patients’ conditions.
The risk of infection arising from the injection site is minimal. If you experience any infection such as inflammation or fever, consult your doctor.
That said, people on blood thinning medication may experience excessive bleeding. Your doctor will monitor your situation and help stop the bleeding.
The benefits of a blood test can’t be understated.
The information they provide enables physicians to discover or monitor medical issues that can affect your health negatively.
If you need to undertake blood work or other lab tests, our medical team at Livv Natural is on hand to help you.