Tag Archives: Blood Tests

AGING: HOW BIOMARKERS HELP DIAGNOSE DEMENTIA

Biomarkers are measurable indicators of what’s happening in your body. They can be found in blood, other body fluids, organs, and tissues, and can be used to track healthy processes, disease progression, or even responses to a medication. Biomarkers are an important part of dementia research.

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Cardiac Tests: B-Type Natriuretic Peptide (BNP)

B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) belongs to a family of protein hormones called natriuretic peptides. These natriuretic peptides have an important role in regulating the circulation. They act on blood vessels, causing them to dilate, or widen. They also work on the kidneys, causing them to excrete more salt and water. In addition, the natriuretic peptides reduce the production of various hormones that narrow blood vessels, boost the heart rate, or affect fluid retention; examples include adrenaline, angiotensin, and aldosterone.

Blood Tests: What Is A ‘Basic Metabolic Panel’?

1. Glucose

Glucose is the type of sugar that your body uses for energy. 

What’s normal: 70 to 99 mg/dL (after 8 to 12 hours of not eating).

  •  What’s normal: 70 to 99 mg/dL (after 8 to 12 hours of not eating).
  •  What abnormal results can mean: If there’s too much, then it can mean diabetes or prediabetes. If there’s too little, it could mean hypoglycemia.

2. Calcium

Calcium is needed for many body functions, including building bones, heart function, muscle contraction and nerve signaling. 

  • What’s normal: 8.5 to 10.2 mg/dL.
  • What abnormal results can mean: Kidney/liver problems, bone disease, thyroid disease, cancer and malnutrition

3. Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals that maintain fluid levels and chemical balance in your body. 

  • What’s normal: Bicarbonate (total) 18 to 30 mEq/L; Chloride: 98 to 106 mEq/L; Magnesium: 1.8 to 3.6 mg/dL or 1.5 to 3.0 mEq/L; Phosphorus: 3 to 4.5 mg/dL or 1.8 to 2.3 mEq/L; Potassium: 3.5 to 5.5 mEq/L; Sodium: 135 to 147 mEq/L.
  • What abnormal results can mean: Dehydration, kidney disease, liver disease, heart failure and high blood pressure.

4. Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)

Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) is a waste product that kidneys filter out of your body.

  • What’s normal: 6 to 20 mg/dL.
  • What abnormal results can mean: If there’s too much, then it can mean kidney disease, heart failure or dehydration. If there’s too little, it could mean liver failure or malnutrition.

5. Creatinine

Creatinine is a waste product that kidneys filter out of your body.

  • What’s normal: For men, 0.7 to 1.3 mg/dL. For women, 0.6 to 1.1 mg/dL.
  • What abnormal results can mean:  If there’s too much, then it can mean kidney disease, muscle breakdown or dehydration. If there’s too little, it could mean malnutrition or low muscle mass.

“Metabolism involves any way your body converts or uses energy,” says Dr. Allan. “That includes digestion, breathing, circulation, and functioning of your organs, muscles and nervous system.”

IN THE LAB: TESTS FOR AND DIAGNOSING “aNEMIA”

I should have known something was wrong.

I was getting short of breath with a third of a 45-minute exercise I had done for years, but I rationalized it away. I reasoned that I hadn’t been sleeping well, I am getting old. And my heart isn’t working as well because of the Atrial Fibrillation.

Physicians have a big armamentarium of excuses they can generate, and besides it is their Karma to GIVE Medical care rather than to RECEIVE it.

The AHA moment came when I bumped my leg, and peeled back some skin. My skin is old and fragile, and I’m always tearing it in small areas.

This time, I got to see the blood run all the way down my leg like a drop of grape juice, not the thick blood I’m used to. If anything, my blood should be thicker, more viscous, since my average Hemoglobin is 16 gm., on the high side of normal.

I got my blood drawn, and ordered a CBC and a ferritin. The CBC shows the Hemoglobin level, and a number of other measurements bearing on anemia, and the ferritin gives a measure of IRON STORES.

I can’t remember the first time my ferritin was ordered, or why, but it has for years been borderline, just barely in the normal range, dipping down as low as 18, and rising as high as 35.

Since a common cause of low iron stores with a good diet is colon cancer, I had about 3 colonoscopies to rule out cancer over a period of 6 years; lucky me.

At least they were all negative, and without polyps.

This time the ferritin was 12, well into the abnormal range, and the Hemoglobin was 8.6 gm. little more than half my usual.

I had been fibrillating for 5 months, and been on 5 mg. Eliquis ( an anticoagulant/blood thinner) for the same period. Having a recent normal colonoscopy, the most likely diagnosis was AVMs (arteriovenous malformations) of the small bowel, with bleeding accelerated by the Eliquis,

Since small bowel surgery contraindicated a diagnostic videocapsule, this diagnosis would have to remain an assumption.

I reduced the Eliquis by 25%, calculated my blood loss rate and started 2 capsules of feosol alternating with 3 capsules daily. Over a period of 4 months, my Hemoglobin came back up to 15 gm., and my ferritin came up to 50. I am due another test as soon as I get enough nerve to brave the Covid and go to the lab.

This story is a good illustration of treating one illness, and thereby creating another in this world awash with medication. How much better it is to stay as healthy as possible.

However, I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that Health is not often the top priority in most peoples lives.

As an illustration, I refer to todays’ Sunday New York Times, which reviewed 2 books on walking, one written to praise its’ health benefits. To quote the reviewer, “

The issue with ‘ in praise of walking’ is Mr. O’Mara’s assumption that how good an activity may be for us is the most essential measure of its worth”. Praising health raises an issue?

Personally, my main exercise is walking, and I do it expressly for health. That doesn’t mean that I don”t enjoy walking and have other motivations. I would not be walking as FAST, however, it it were not so healthy.

–Dr.C.