Why should you get a basic or comprehensive lab panel? Because your healthcare provider can’t properly identify what is causing your health issues and make qualified recommendations for solutions without it.
Blood testing is a vital component of healthcare for aging adults over the age of 35. Your test results can help catch critical changes in your body before they manifest as heart disease, diabetes, or simply inflammation and advanced aging. They also help identify many issues affecting your health that can be improved with appropriate therapies including your mental state, sexual health, weight management, memory and energy levels.
Your lab results empower you to take charge of your health and enhance your quality of life.
Once you have your lab results in hand, you can work with a TeleWellnessMD healthcare provider on your personalized wellness plan or take them to any physician or specialist as needed.
Confused by what some of these tests say about your health? Let’s explore some of the components of the TeleWellnessMD basic and comprehensive lab panels.
BASIC LAB PANEL COMPONENTS
A basic lab panel includes the following components.
Chemistry Panel and Complete Blood Count (CBC)
The Chemistry Panel and Complete Blood Count (CBC) provides a broad range of diagnostic information to assess your vascular, liver, kidney, and blood cell status and gives you and your physician a glimpse of your overall health. It is useful in screening for infections, anemias, inflammation, bleeding disorder or leukemia and other hematological abnormalities.
The Chemistry Panel provides information on the status of your cardiovascular system and measures blood glucose, which can detect early-stage metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and coronary artery disease.
Also included in the Chemistry Panel is an assessment of critical minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron.
It can also monitor a condition and/or effectiveness of treatment after a diagnosis is established.
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)
The Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) is used as a broad screening tool to evaluate organ function and check for conditions such as diabetes, liver disease and kidney disease. The CMP may also be ordered to monitor known conditions, such as hypertension, and to monitor people taking specific medications for any kidney- or liver-related side effects.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is a precursor to the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. Blood levels of DHEA dramatically decline with age, so DHEA is frequently referred to as an “anti-aging” hormone.
Healthy levels of DHEA may support immune function, bone density, mood, libido, and healthy body composition.
Supplementation with DHEA increases immunological function, improves bone mineral density, increases sexual libido in women, reduces abdominal fat, protects the brain following nerve injury, and helps prevent diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Some research suggests that DHEA may have antidepressant and wound healing effects.
This test is used by woman to evaluate estrogen levels for unexplained abnormal menstrual cycles, abnormal or heavy bleeding, infertility, symptoms of menopause, or any other hormonal alterations; also used to test for fetal-placental status during early stages of pregnancy; the presence of female-like characteristics in males may require estrogen measurement as well. In men, estrogen is produced in small amounts by the testes, adrenal glands, and pituitary glands. As men age testosterone levels decline while producing more estrogen through aromatase activity. The liver is responsible for removing excess estrogen and SHBG, and any decrease in liver function could exacerbate hormonal imbalances and compromise healthy testosterone levels.
Free T3-Triiodothyronine (T3) is a thyroid hormone that circulates in blood almost completely bound (>99.5%) to carrier proteins. The main transport protein is thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG). However, only the free (unbound) portion of triiodothyronine (free T3) is believed to be responsible for the biological action.
Free T4-(T4) is also known as thyroxine or tetraiodothyronine. The free T4 test is a newer test that is not affected by protein levels. Since free T4 is the active form of thyroxine, the free T4 test is thought by many to be a more accurate reflection of thyroid hormone function and, in most cases, its use has replaced that of the total T4 test.
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone and Luteinizing Hormone (FSH/LH)
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone and Luteinizing Hormone (FSH/LH) is released by the anterior pituitary gland. In women, FSH stimulates production of eggs and a hormone called estradiol during the first half of the menstrual cycle. In men, FSH stimulates production of sperm. Luteinizing hormone is a glycoprotein hormone that is secreted by the adenohypophysis and that in the female stimulates ovulation and the development of the corpora lutea and together with follicle-stimulating hormone the secretion of estrogen from developing ovarian follicles and in the male the development of interstitial tissue in the testis and the secretion of testosterone
In women, LH helps regulate the menstrual cycle and egg production (ovulation). The level of LH in a woman’s body varies with the phase of the menstrual cycle. It increases rapidly just before ovulation occurs, about midway through the cycle (day 14 of a 28-day cycle). This is called an LH surge. Luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone levels rise and fall together during the monthly menstrual cycle.
In men, LH stimulates the production of testosterone, which plays a role in sperm production.
This test measures the amount of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in your blood.
IGF-1 consists of 70 amino acids and is produced primarily in the liver when stimulated by growth hormone. IGF-1 is the major mediator of the effects of growth hormone, therefore IGF-1 is measured to help diagnose the cause of growth abnormalities and other physical symptoms, evaluate pituitary function, and monitor treatment of GH deficiencies and excesses. IGF-1 reference ranges are highly age dependent and results must always be interpreted within the context of the patient’s age.
Because IGF-1 measurements relate to GH measurements, this test is used to diagnose many problems linked to too much or too little GH.
The Cholesterol and Lipid Profile will provide you with detailed information about your cholesterol and related lipid chemistries that affect heart health including: cholesterol, total; high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol; low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (calculation); triglycerides; very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol (calculation)
Cholesterol testing and lipid chemistries are important because significant deviations from the normal range may require further evaluation by your physician. For example, having a high VLDL level means you may have an increased risk of coronary artery disease which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Pregnenolone is a very important hormone that is tied to many important functions in the body. It is a natural hormone produced from cholesterol in the adrenal glands. It is a substance that is often referred as the “Mother Steroid”, because it is needed in order to form other hormones such as testosterone, dihydroepiandrosterine (DHEA), progesterone, estrogen, and cortisol. As with many hormones, Pregnenolone production decreases with age and this reduction can be sped up by stress, infection, and other medical conditions. Maintaining adequate levels can help reduce stress, inflammation and help balance the levels of key hormones, promoting mood and memory enhancement while improving energy and enzyme activity. Pregnenolone is found in the tissues of the nervous system, skin, adrenal glands, retinas of the eyes, the brain and the testicles of men and ovaries in women. By the age of 70, Pregnenolone levels can decline by as much as 70%.
Pregnenolone is very successful at improving the quality of sleep and decreasing intermittent wakefulness. Pregnenolone provides precursors that support healthy memory, mood, mental clarity, concentration, alertness and focus. It acts as a mood enhancer and as a mild anti-depressant. Steroid hormones that are synthesized from Pregnenolone are known to be implicated in mood enhancement via their effects on the nervous system.
Progesterone is produced primarily by the corpus luteum and to a small degree by the adrenal glands. Progesterone is important for the regulation of ovulation, maintenance of pregnancy or menstruation. Women suffer an age related decline in progesterone after the age of 35, which can cause an array of symptoms. Progesterone reference ranges are highly dependent on menstruation status and results must always be interpreted within the correct menstrual phase. Progesterone is not an especially beneficial test by itself and should be tested along with total estrogen, DHEA-s, pregnenolone, morning cortisol, testosterone, and IGF-1.
A testosterone test checks the level of this male hormone (androgen) in the blood. Testosterone affects sexual features and development.
Testosterone is produced in the testes in men, in the ovaries in women, and in the adrenal glands of both men and women. Men and women alike can be dramatically affected by the decline in testosterone levels that occurs with aging.
Testosterone plays different roles in men and women, including the regulation of fertility, libido, and muscle mass. In men, free testosterone levels may be used to evaluate whether sufficient bioactive testosterone is available to protect against abdominal obesity, mental depression, osteoporosis, and heart disease. In women, low levels of testosterone have been associated with decreased libido and well-being, while high levels of free testosterone may indicate hirsuitism (a condition of excessive hair growth on the face and chest) or polycystic ovarian syndrome. Increased testosterone in women may also indicate low estrogen levels.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
A thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test is used to check for thyroid gland problems. TSH is produced when the hypothalamus releases a substance called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). TRH then triggers the pituitary gland to release TSH.
Secreted by the pituitary gland, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) controls thyroid hormone secretion in the thyroid. When blood levels fall below normal, this indicates hyperthyroidism (increased thyroid activity, also called thyrotoxicosis), and when values are above normal, this suggests hypothyroidism (low thyroid activity). Overt hyper- or hypothyroidism is generally easy to diagnose, but subclinical disease can be more elusive. Most cases of less than optimal thyroid are missed with TSH alone. Direct measures of Free T3 and Free T4 are necessary.
Because the symptoms of thyroid imbalance may be nonspecific or absent and may progress slowly, and since many doctors do not routinely screen for thyroid function, people with mild hyper- or hypothyroidism can go undiagnosed for some time. Undiagnosed mild disease can progress to clinical disease states. This is a dangerous scenario, since people with hypothyroidism and elevated serum cholesterol and LDL have an increased risk of atherosclerosis.
Mild hypothyroidism (low thyroid gland function) may be associated with reversible hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol) and cognitive dysfunction, as well as such nonspecific symptoms as fatigue, depression, cold intolerance, dry skin, constipation, and weight gain. Mild hyperthyroidism is often associated with atrial fibrillation (a disturbance of heart rhythm), reduced bone mineral density, and nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, heat intolerance, nervousness, insomnia, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations.
ADDED COMPONENTS OF A COMPREHENSIVE LAB PANEL
The comprehensive lab panel includes all components of a basic lab panel as well as the following added components.
A ferritin test measures the amount of ferritin in your blood. Ferritin is a blood cell protein that contains iron. The test is sometimes ordered along with an iron test and a TIBC to detect the presence and evaluate the severity of an iron deficiency or overload.
If a ferritin test reveals that your blood ferritin level is lower than normal, it indicates your body’s iron stores are low and you have iron deficiency.
If a ferritin test shows higher than normal levels, it could indicate that you have a condition that causes your body to store too much iron. It could also point to liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, other inflammatory conditions or hyperthyroidism. Some types of cancer also may cause your blood ferritin level to be high.
A ferritin test can help confirm a diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia, hemochromatosis, liver disease and adult Still’s disease, among others.
Testing for hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) measures a person’s blood sugar control over the last two to three months. It predicts heart disease risk in people with or without diabetes. People with diabetes can prevent certain complications, such as a cardiovascular disease event, by maintaining healthy hemoglobin A1C levels.
Elevated levels of blood sugar over time, is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
The A1C test is a common blood test used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes and then to gauge how well you’re managing your diabetes.
High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (HS CRP)
Inflammation within the body can lead to a range of life-threatening degenerative diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, macular degeneration, and cognitive decline. By measuring your body’s level of inflammation through regular C-reactive protein testing, you can devise a strategy of diet, exercise, and supplementation to halt many of these conditions.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a sensitive marker of systemic inflammation that has emerged as a powerful predictor of coronary heart disease and other diseases of the cardiovascular system.
High-sensitivity cardiac CRP can predict risk of incident myocardial infarction, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and sudden cardiac death.
Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC)
Total iron binding capacity (TIBC) is a blood test to see if you have too much or too little iron in the blood. Iron moves through the blood attached to a protein called transferrin. This test helps your doctor know how well that protein can carry iron in the blood.
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)
The sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) test may be used to help evaluate men for low testosterone and women for excess testosterone production. It may be ordered in conjunction with other tests to evaluate the status of a person’s sex hormones.
SHBG is a protein that binds tightly to the hormones testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and estradiol. Changes in SHBG levels can affect the amount of hormone that is available to be used by the body’s tissues.
Vitamin D 250H
The 25-hydroxy vitamin D test is the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body. The active form of vitamin D helps control calcium and phosphate levels in the body.
This test can help determine if bone weakness, bone malformation, or abnormal metabolism of calcium is occurring as a result of a deficiency or excess of vitamin D. It can also help screen, diagnose or monitor problems with parathyroid gland functions, cystic fibrosis and Crohn disease.
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