Whether it's part of a general checkup or to rule out disease, testing blood provides invaluable information. For most patients, I recommend yearly blood tests to help identify problems before you may even be aware there is a problem. For weight loss, I like to obtain baseline tests on the initial visit. Re-testing weeks or months later--after improving diet and losing weight--can provide evidence that you not only weigh less, but that you are healthier on the inside and have reduced your disease risk. The following tests are those that I use routinely. Additional tests may be warranted depending upon a person's history or symptoms.
- CBC (Complete Blood Count): this test checks white blood cells (i.e. immune system health), red blood cell size, shape and count, and the amount of hemoglobin (necessary for oxygen transport ). Many diseases cause changes in red blood cells and white blood cells. Also identifies anemia.
- CMP (Comprehensive Metabolic Panel): consists of numerous measurements that identify kidney and liver disease as well as electrolytes. Tests fasting blood sugar. Good general screening test to rule out many diseases.
- Lipid Panel: checks total cholesterol as well as HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Also checks triglycerides that are often elevated as a result of high blood sugar.
- cCRP (Cardio C-reactive protein)(known also as "high sensitivity" CRP): this is one of my favorite tests because it identifies the amount of inflammation a person has. Measurement of cCRP can demonstrate improvement in health because it decreases with weight loss and dietary improvements. It is also markedly elevated with autoimmune disorders.
- HgbA1c (Hemoglobin A1c): gives a 2-3 months average of blood sugar. Very useful to determine how well a person is managing diabetes.
- TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone): a useful screening test to evaluate amount of thyroid hormone production. Thyroid hormone is responsible for metabolic rate and influences other hormone action. As thyroid hormone levels drop, TSH elevates. If thyroid hormone levels increase, TSH decreases. This is a screening test only. If I suspect a person has thyroid problems additional tests must be run (T4, T3, rT3, thyroid antibodies, thyroglobulin).
- Vitamin D: another very important test because most individuals are deficient in this critical hormone (yes, hormone. Vitamin D is not a vitamin, but rather a hormone because it is made in the body from sunlight). Research in the last 5 years has demonstrated that vitamin D is anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. Deficiency has been correlated with about 25 diseases including PCOS, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and low back pain.
There are very many more tests that can be run and are dependent upon your history, symptoms, and family history. These may include other vitamin tests, hormone tests (sometimes best performed from saliva or urine), heavy metal tests, or tests that assist with determining organ function or damage.