EVERYTHING ABOUT

MEASURING HEALTH

Every week I am posting about  everything you need to know about hormones. This weeks topic is about testing Health.

Did you know – Testing Health

  • Blood is the most common way to test.
  • Blood testing became more and more common practise in the 20th century, especially from around 1940.
  • Urine testing has been used since before 400BC.
  • Blood is a transport medium, transporting molecules from A to B.
  • Blood levels of these molecule are not necessarily representative of what is happening in cells
  • Most test results are based on an evaluation from testing a large number of people who have key similarities and observing what appears to be “typical” for them, which may differ from lab to lab.
  • The result of any single diagnostic test is not usually enough to make a diagnosis.
  • Each test should be part of a medical evaluation.
  • Changes in test results over time provides much more information than a single value or reading.
  • Most tests are not 100 percent reliable.
  • Diagnostic tests include blood tests, urine tests, saliva tests. imaging tests, and special tests such as electrocardiogram (EKG) and electroencephalogram (EEG), etc.
  • One of the most empowering things you can do, is to get copies of your test results so that you can have results to compare to at a future time.

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Intro

Blood testing 101

Overview of well-woman & well-man medical tests

The Ultimate 8 tests for measuring health

Reference ranges 101

What is a reference range?

  • A set of values that includes upper and lower limits of a lab test
  • The values in between those limits depend on such factors as age, sex, and specimen type (blood, urine, spinal fluid, etc.)
  • The values are also influenced by situations such as fasting and exercise.
  • These values are thought of as “normal ranges.”
  • There is no universally applicable reference value
  • Lab reports compare your blood test results with a range that is considered normal for that lab.
  • The lab’s reference range is based on test results from many people previously tested in that lab.
  • This normal range may not be the same as another lab’s, in fact a normal result in one lab may be abnormal in another
  • A normal result does not come with a promise of health, while it is a good thing, it’s not a guarantee
  • An abnormal result does not mean you are sick, however, does alert your healthcare provider of a possible problem and therefore a need for more testing, possibly re-testing or at the very least observation.

How are reference ranges determined?

  • The short answer to this question is by testing a large number of people who have key similarities and observing what appears to be “typical” for them.
  • Labs may conduct their own studies for the tests they perform
  • Labs may adopt reference ranges from test manufacturers or other labs
  • Labs may derive reference ranges from existing patient data.
  • Some reference intervals are based on the outcome of clinical studies
  • Each laboratory establishes or “validates” its own reference ranges

Why do reference ranges vary?

  • Differences in lab testing equipment, chemical reagents, and analysis techniques.
  • Criteria for selection of healthy subjects are different
  • Patient populations are different.
  • Geographic areas have different temperatures, altitudes, barometric pressures, humidity, and time zones.
  • Subject preparation and sample collection may differ
  • Some tests have limits rather than ranges, which are based on many years of research involving large, diverse populations, these limits have been accepted as standard.

Blood testing 101

  • Blood tests can offer a good snapshot of your overall health.
  • Can be a good way to catch illness or disease early
  • Can be a good way to see how well your body responds to treatments.
  • Good to get routine blood tests once a year.
  • Regular blood testing is one of the most important ways to keep track of your overall physical well-being.
  • Getting tested at routine intervals can allow you to see the way your body changes over time and empower you to make informed decisions about your health.

What does a blood test show?

  • How different organs in your body are working, such as thyroid, liver, heart or kidneys.
  • Diagnose diseases and health conditions or the risk of developing such as:

– Diabetes
– Anaemia
– Cancer
– Coronary heart disease

  • Whether medications are working properly
  • Assess blood clotting
  • Assess levels of nutrients, such as iron, Vit D, etc.

How often should I get routine blood work?

ages 18 to 39
– at least every 5 years

ages 40 to 49
– every 2 to 3 years

ages 50 and older
– every 1 to 2 years

If you are at a higher risk due to hereditary weaknesses
– more frequent testing may be necessary.

Why do some blood tests require fasting?

  • Everything you eat and drink contains vitamins, proteins, and other nutrients ends up in the blood, which may affect levels of some of the molecules being tested
  • Fasting for 8 to 12 hours helps ensure that blood test results are free from these variables,
  • Common tests that may require fasting include:

– cholesterol tests
– blood sugar tests
– liver function tests
– kidney function tests.

DIY Home Health Checks

  • Staying on top of your health goes beyond seeing your doc once a year.
  • Health problems can be identified at home
  • Smart people do these simple body health checks on a regular basis.
  • Register when something doesn’t feel right or has changed is smart

The Temperature Test

  • You don’t need to take your temperature every day (unless you’re tracking for ovulation)
  • Get to know your baseline temp when you’re healthy by taking your temperature a few times throughout a day
  • In this way you will recognize a spike or dip which could be a sign of illness.
  • 98.6 F / 37C is considered “normal” body temperature
  • But a healthy temp can actually range from 95-101F / 35 – 38.3C degrees, depending on

– the time of day
– your age
– fitness level
– diet
– and other variables, eg. older people tend to have a lower body temp, and may not reach typical feverish levels.

  • Many ways to take your temperature

– ear thermometers
– forehead scanners
– digital thermometers used under-the-tongue
– whichever you choose, stick with it for consistent results..

  • high temperatures indicate your body is battling infection
  • lower-than-usual temps could be due to health issues like diabetes, hypothyroidism, or liver disease.

The Pulse Test

  • check your pulse, ie. measuring how many times your heart beats in one minute
  • resting heart rate provides important insight of overall heart health.
  • women with higher resting heart rates have a greater heart attack risk than those with lower resting pulses.
  • a rapid resting heart rate could also indicate a heart condition
  • placing your middle and index finger on your neck, just next to your Adam’s apple and count your pulse for 30 seconds, multiply by two to get your heart rate per minute.
  • a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
  • a low pulse usually means you’re physically fit.
  • see a doctor if your resting pulse is over 100

 The Waist Test

  • waist circumference is a good indication of future risk for many health conditions
  • the thicker the waist, the higher your risk — even if your weight is healthy.
  • a large waist circumference means more belly fat, which is linked to higher levels of inflammatory chemicals associated with heart disease and diabetes.
  • Measurements

– a healthy waist for women should be less than 35ins / 88cm
– a healthy waist for a man waist should be less than 40ins / 101cm.
– anything greater than that puts you at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

 The Skin Test

  • skin cancer is a common form of cancer
  • good news is its almost always treatable when caught early.
  • observant people are more likely to spot melanomas before their physicians.
  • get to know your moles

– check them ideally once a month, especially
– if you’re fair-skinned
– have a family history of skin cancer
– have a lot of moles
– scan your entire body
– get help to check the areas you can’t see
– take pictures of any ‘iffy’ moles so you can be aware of any changes over time.
– use the “ABCDE” warning signs

A for asymmetrical

B for irregular borders

C for abnormal colour

D for diameter

E for evolving, meaning the mole changes appearance over time.

  • get anything suspicious checked out by a dermatologist

The Breast Test

  • daily breast self-awareness – know your breasts’ normal appearance and feel
  • monthly breast self-exam

– get to know your breasts
– working your way around the entire breast
– including underneath the armpit
– gently pressing your fingertips into your breast tissue
– look / feel for anything unusual, such as: lumps, skin dimpling, bruises, changes to your nipple, discharge from the nipple.

 The Tired Test

  • Sleep is fuel for the brain
  • Possibly more important for health than eating a nutritious diet and getting plenty of exercise.
  • In today’s 24/7 society, many things potentially rob us of a good night’s sleep,
  • If you wake up feeling exhausted despite efforts to get a good night’s sleep you could have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, a condition with constant pauses in breathing during sleep – check my blog about sleep for information 
  • Ask your bed-mate to check for snoring or breathing lapses during the night
  • Other sleep apnea warning signs:

– nodding off during the day when you don’t intend to
– feeling completely exhausted even after thinking you’ve gotten plenty of sleep
– waking up with a headache
– waking up with a dry throat
– feeling irritable or unable to concentrate during the day.

Tests for Physical Fitness for 50+

Being physically fit as we age is important and getting to know your level of fitness will let you know if there is room for improvement.

Testing Aerobic Fitness

Resting Heart Rate

  • To check your carotid pulse – place your index and middle fingers on your neck to the side of your windpipe.
  • To check your wrist pulse – place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery, located on the palm side of your wrist below the thumb.
  • When you feel your pulse, look at a watch or clock and count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by 4 to get your heart rate per minute fx 20 beats in 15 seconds x 4 = 80 beats a minute.

Target Heart Rate

  • Age 55 – Beats per minute 83-140 
  • Age 65 – Beats per minute 78-132

Running or Jogging test

1.5-mile / 2.4-kilometer run or jog

  • Age 55 – Women 16 minutes or under – Men 13 minutes or under
  • Age 65 – Women 17.5 minutes or under – Men 14 minutes or under

Muscular Strength and Endurance Test

Measure muscular strength and endurance via push-ups

  • Lie face-down on the floor with your elbows bent and your palms next to your shoulders.
  • Keeping your back straight, push up with your arms until your arms are extended.
  • Lower your body until your chin touches the floor.
  • Do as many push-ups as you can until you need to stop for rest.

Good Fitness Results for Push-ups

  • Age 55 – Women 10 push-ups or more – Men 12 push-ups or more
  • Age 65 – Women 8 push-ups or more – Men 10 push-ups or more

Measures strength and endurance of your abdominal muscles via sit-ups.

  • Lie on the floor with knees bent at a 90-degree angle and feet flat on the floor or place your feet on the wall so your knees and hips are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Cross your arms across your chest.
  • Raise your head and shoulders off the floor then return to the floor.
  • Do as many sit-ups as you can in one minute.

Good Fitness Results for Sit-ups

  • Age 45 – Women 21 sit-ups or more – Men 30 sit-ups or more
  • Age 45 – Women 12 sit-ups or more – Men 24 sit-ups or more

Flexibility

  • The sit-and-reach test is a simple way to measure the flexibility of the back of your legs, your hips and your lower back.
  • Place a yardstick on the floor.
  • Sit with the yard stick between your legs the yard stick starting at your crutch.
  • Slowly reach forward as far as you can, exhaling as you reach and holding the position for at least 1 second
  • Note the distance you reached on the yardstick
  • Repeat the test two more times.
  • Record the best of the three reaches.

Good Results for Sit-and-Reach Test

  • Age 55 – Women 48 cm reach or more – Men 44 cm reach or more
  • Age 65 – Women 44 cm reach or more – Men 39 cm reach or more

Waist Circumference

  • If your waist circumference is greater than your hips ie. you carry more weight above the hips, you have an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Measure your waist circumference in between the crest of pelvic bones and lowest rib.
  • Increased disease risk

– women with waist circumferences of 35 inches / 89 cm or more
– men with waist circumferences of 40 inches /102 cm or more.

Body Mass Index

  • A calculation that divides your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiply by 703. Or your weight in kilos by your height in meters squared.

BMI results

  • Below 18.5 – Underweight
  • 18.5 – 24.9 – Normal weight
  • 25.0 – 29.9 – Overweight
  • 30 and above – Obesity.

Overview of Well-Woman & Well-Man Medical Tests for the Over 50’s

Check the following on a regular basis and keep on top of your health to stay independent, vital, healthy & feel good as you age

Blood tests

Complete blood count – CBC – yearly

  • levels of white blood cells – including the various immune cells. See the article ‘measuring immune health’ in this blog for more information
  • levels of red blood cells – including levels red blood cell count, haemoglobin, and haematocrit, etc.
  • levels of platelets – indicating blood clotting abilities

Inflammation – yearly

  • CRP – detects inflammation
  • hs-CRP / High Sensitive CRP can detect low levels of inflammation which can indicate risk for heart disease
  • ESR – red blood cell sedimentation rate, the quicker the rate the more inflammation
  • s.Ferritin – storage iron the higher the level the more inflammation and oxidative stress
  • TNF-alpha – the higher the level the more inflammation
  • IL-6 – the higher the level the more inflammation
  • DHEA-S – the lower the level the more inflammation
  • For more information about inflammation check the article ‘measuring inflammation’ in this blog

Liver function – yearly

  • Albumin, a protein made in the liver high and low can levels indicate disease
  • Total protein – measures the total amount of protein in the blood where high levels can indicate chronic infection or inflammation
  • ALP – alkaline phosphatase – liver enzyme activity
  • ALT – alanine transaminase – liver enzyme activity
  • AST – aspartate aminotransferase – liver enzyme activity
  • GGT – gamma-glutamyl transferase – liver enzyme activity.
  • Bilirubin – a waste product made by the liver.
  • LD – lactate dehydrogenase – enzyme registering cellular damage by disease or injury.
  • PT – prothrombin time – the time it takes for the blood to clot.

Kidney function – yearly

  • ACR – Albumin to Creatinine Ratio, high albumin to creatinine indicates disease
  • GFR – Glomerular Filtration Rate, how well your kidneys are filtering, low levels indicate poor kidney function

Lipid levels – yearly

  • Total cholesterol – the combination of LDL-C, VLDL-C and HDL-C.
  • LDL Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol – also known as “bad cholesterol.”.
  • VLDL Very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol – also known as a ‘bad cholesterol’
  • HDL High-density lipoprotein cholesterol – also known as “good cholesterol.”
  • Triglycerides – the way the body stores fat. High levels are associated with cardiovascular disease and pancreatic inflammation.

Blood sugar imbalances – daily or yearly

  • Fasting glucose –  under 5 mmol/L
  • HbA1c – a calculation of the amount of glucose stuck to iron in haemoglobin in red blood cells, give a picture of what blood glucose levels have been during the last 2 – 3 months. Higher levels indicate type 2 diabetes
  • Fasting Insulin – higher levels indicate type 2 diabetes

Thyroid problems – yearly

  • TSH – the message from the brain to the Thyroid, high levels indicate low Thyroid function, low levels indicate high Thyroid function
  • Free levels of T4 – the hormone produced in the Thyroid, not very active. High levels indicate over active Thyroid, low levels underactive Thyroid
  • Free levels of T3 – the active hormone produced in the liver and Pituitary. High levels indicate over active Thyroid, low levels underactive Thyroid

Oxidative stress – yearly

  • A urine sample to measure free radical damage
  • lipid peroxides measures oxidative damage to cell membranes
  • 8-hydroxy-deoxyGuanosine measures oxidative damage to DNA
  • See the article ‘measuring oxidative stress’ in this blog for more information and testing

Special tests

  • Colorectal Cancer Screening

– Faecal occult blood testing – yearly
– Sigmoidoscopy and or Colonoscopy – every 5 years (more often if there is a family history of colon cancer)

  • Prostate cancer screening – yearly

– PSA

  • Breast cancer screening – yearly

– Mammogram
– Ultra sound scan

  • Pelvic abnormalities – yearly

– Pap smear
– HPV test
– Ultra Sounds of the uterus and ovaries (ovarian cancer is a killer as it is discovered too late due to insufficient of control check-ups).

  • Aneurysm – yearly

– screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) by ultrasound – very important for men over 65

  • Eye diseases – yearly

– macular degeneration
– cataracts
– glaucoma

  • Hearing difficulties – yearly

– at least 25% of people over 65 have disabling hearing loss, most of which is treatable.

  • Bone density -Osteoporosis / Osteopenia – every 2 years

– Dexa scan

  • Teeth & gums check – yearly

– Gum disease can be an important sign of your overall health
– Your teeth, gums, mouth, and throat need to be regularly examined by a dentist.
– Gum disease increases the risk of a heart attack.

The Ultimate 8

Keep on top of these 8 important tests and age with strength and vitality

  • Body composition / waist circumference – weekly
  • Blood pressure – daily
  • Blood sugar – daily
  • Inflammation – yearly
  • Vitamin B12 – yearly
  • Vitamin D – yearly
  • Liver function – yearly
  • Oxidative stress – yearly

Measuring Immune Health

Today more than ever there is focus on a healthy immune system. Knowing levels of the following can indicate the level of immune health. 

The Essentials

White blood cells / leucocytes

  • Neutrophils – first-responders at infection and inflammation sites help fight infection by ingesting microbes and or releasing enzymes that kill them
  • Lymphocytes – are cells that produce antibodies against microbes, kill cancer or virus-infected cells, and help direct the immune response
  • Monocytes – are cells that kill microbes, ingest foreign particles, remove dead cells, and boost the immune response
  • Eosinophils – are cells that fight parasite infections and are involved in the allergic response
  • Basophils – are cells involved in inflammatory responses

Immuno-Globulins

  • IgM – levels increase during the initial phase of a new infection, and they provide general but short-term protection against infections. IgM levels eventually decline as the body starts producing more IgG antibodies
  • IgG – are the most common antibodies in the blood. They are made in the second wave of the immune response and are crucial for a successful defence against viruses and bacteria
  • IgA– are found in the mucus or the gut, lungs, and urogenital tract. They are the first line of defence against harmful microbes we breathe in or ingest
  • IgE – are involved in allergic reactions, also against parasites
  • IgD – still an unknown quantity.

C-reactive protein

  • High levels can indicate acute inflammation due to bacterial or viral infections
  • hs-CRP can detect low grade, silent, chronic inflammation.

Vitamin D

  • Essential for immune defence against bacterial and viral infections.
  • Deficiency is relatively common especially as we age

Zinc

  • Essential for the normal development and function of many immune cells.
  • Mild deficiency can impair immune function and increase the risk of bacterial and viral infections.
  • Deficiency common in older people

Iron/Ferritin

  • Deficiency decreases the body’s ability to fight bacterial and viral infections.
  • Excess can increase inflammation and oxidative stress and feed certain bacteria

Magnesium

  • Necessary to activate vitamin D and therefore important for the immune response.
  • Magnesium deficiency is very common.

Folate

  • Essential to make immune cells
  • Deficiency can be common

Vitamin C

  • Essential to kill microbes and deactivate free radicals
  • Curbs excess inflammation in the body
  • Is a major antioxidant
  • Helps recycle glutathione the body’s most important antioxidant enzyme.
  • Many need to top on vitamin C

ANAAntinuclear Antibodies

  • Positive or negative result
  • A positive result indicates autoimmune disorder is present, next step is to test to find which one

 The Extras

The following are also important for immune health, though many are not deficient

  • Vitamin A, E, B2, B6, B12
  • Selenium

Testing

Blood Test

  • Complete blood count – CBC,
  • CRP
  • ANA
  • Vitamin D
  • Ferritin

Measuring Inflammation

There is no one test that can diagnose and measure inflammation.

Questionnaires can give an indication

Check my webpage for the following tests

  • Inflammation symptom test
  • High Cortisol symptom test
  • Urine pH

 Blood tests

Diagnose inflammation in the body but not why there is inflammation or where it is.

  • CRP – C-reactive protein

Is produced in the liver in response to inflammation. High levels can occur in both acute and chronic inflammation. It is generally accepted that hs-CRP levels can help predict the future risk of heart disease even in apparently healthy people. Low risk: under 1.0 mg/L. Higher risk: above 3.0 mg/L. Very high risk: 5-10 mg/L. Above 10 mg/L – clinically significant inflammatory states. Stress, lack of sleep, smoking, unhealthy diets, and obesity are some of the factors that can increase CRP levels.

  • ESR – Erythrocyte sedimentation rate

Also called red blood cell sedimentation rate test. The quicker the blood cells sink, the more likely you’re experiencing inflammation.

  • s.Ferritin

Measures the storage levels of iron. High levels can indicate inflammation

  • DHEA-S

Measures sulphated DHEA an anabolic hormone. Low levels will indicate inflammation – BUY HERE

  • Plasma viscosity

Measures the thickness of blood. Inflammation or infection can thicken plasma.

  • IL-6 – Interleukin 6

Is a proinflammatory signalling molecule. High levels create more inflammation

  • TNF-alpha – Tumour Necrosis Factor-Alpha

Measures the amount of interferon beta to interferon-alpha. Interferons are signalling proteins where alpha increases inflammation

  • ANA – Antinuclear Antibodies

Measures a general autoimmune reaction. A positive result indicates an autoimmune problem but not which one.

  • Omega 3 to Omega 6 – fatty acids

Measures the ratio of 3 to 6 and the different types of omega 3’s and 6’s, such EPA, DHA and AA, etc. Omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory – BUY HERE 

Other tests

Stool tests
Calprotectin – measure inflammation in the gut

BUY HERE

Gene test
DNA Health shows the gene variations connected with the body’s ability to create inflammation ie. you create more or less inflammation

BUY HERE

Extra tests
Based on other symptoms and what the doctor ‘believes’ the inflammation may be due to

  • X-rays
  • MRIs
  • Colonoscopy or other gut related tests
  • Etc.

Measuring Oxidative Stress

  • Oxidative stress is the term used to describe the imbalance between the amount of free radicals and the body’s ability to neutralize them, ie antioxidants
  • Oxidative stress indicates the level of tissue damage.
  • Is suspected to be involved in the development of most disease states and aging
  • Measuring oxidative stress levels establishes the need for antioxidant support
  • Oxidative stress is best measured through urine

Urine testing

  • 8-Hydroxyguanosine (8-OHG) – indicates DNA damage
  • p-Hydroxyphenyllactate – indicates higher cell turnover
  • Lipid peroxidase – indicates oxidised fatty acids

How to test

  • Organix Comprehensive
    measures p-Hydroxyphenyllactate and 8-OHG – BUY HERE 
  • DUTCH complete
    measures – 8-OHG – BUY HERE
  • Metabolomix
    measures – 8-OHG and lipid peroxidase – BUY HERE 
  • Oxidative Damage
    measure 8-OHdG – BUY HERE
  • DNA health
    measures the body’s ability to make the powerful antioxidant enzymes responsible for neutralising free radicals – BUY HERE

Questions? Please don't hesitate to contact me