Monday, May 16, 2011

Your body, your health: bloodwork tips

As most of us know,  the medical community advises a physical at least once a year.  This should also include blood work and screenings for common diseases.  But what does this mean in plain language?

Throughout the life span, we become at risk for certain problems.  The entire idea is to sceren and discover before giving a problem a foothold.

Let's decipher what you need to know when you walk into your internist's office.

What and when?

When should you begin to have blood work done related to some common diseases? According to experts, this could be as early as in the twenties, so says Sari Harrar, author of "Blood Tests made simple" "BodyWise"  column in "O" magazine.These tests should be  repeated at least every year or so, or at your doctor's recommendation based upon familiy history. 

This test should include a total cholesterol: LDL (low density lipoprotein), or the bad cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein), the good cholesterol , and blood fat, or triglycerides.

The target ranges are triglycerides under 150mg/dl, HDL over 50 mg/dl and LDL below 130 mg/dl.

The next test to be considered is to check blood sugar.  This also should begin in the twenties. This test  gives information as to how the body effectively uses insulin.   This lab is important particularly if you have a family history, are overweight,  or have high blood pressure.

The target ranges are getting narrower and narrower due to the increased number  of people with the disease.  Under 100 mg/dl is desired.  100mg/dl to126 mg/dl is considered pre-diabetic.  126 mg/dl is considered diabetics.


The thirties should also include thyroid function tests as an improperly functioning thyroid could be at the bottom of a host of diseases including weight gain and cold intolerance.  Many  doctors  recommend a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) beginning at about age 35.

Target ranges are 0.4 to 4.5

The forties

C reactive protein is recommended as this is a test gauging inflammation which can be the root cause of a number of disease incluing heart diseaee and stroke.

The target is less than 2 milligrans per liter.

The fifties

Vitamin D level is recommended, but not necessarily at fifty, probably before.  But as the risk for certain degenerative disease increases (osteoporosis) with age, it should at least be checked at this age now.

Start taking vitamin D in a good multiple vitamin.  It is important to take at least 1000 to 2000 IU daily. Research is showing that vitamin D may be important in the avoidance of such disease as breast and other certain cancers.


 Remember, throughout the life span that it is important to have other screenings, regardless of age, such as HIV and STD.  This is particularly important if you are sexually active.


"BodyWise" Oprah magazine, September, 2009
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