Blood Work for Optimal Preventive Health - Dr. Michael Wald Blood laboratory work is often an important part of assessing and diagnosing your current health issues. But more than just identifying current disease states, laboratory tests can be used preventively to identify sub-clinical disease – hidden from normal view, that represent degenerative health problems early on, before they develop into full-blown diseases.
New patients come to me all the time saying “My doctor says my blood work is normal, but I still don’t feel well.” In over twenty years of clinical practice, I have discovered that most medical doctors rarely order anything beyond “routine” standard lab panels, and only review the results of these to for blatantly high or low abnormal values. There are several problems with this approach. Although standard lab panels give a good general glimpse into your health, they do not include other important predictive factors for disease. For example, while cholesterol and triglyceride levels are helpful for considering heart disease, homocysteine and CRP are also predictors heart health that are not included in a standard lab panels. A standard lab panel may not identify issues specific to your symptoms and current health concerns, which may require additional specialized tests that would require many doctors of different specialties to uncover.
The predominant medical health-care approach is really more of a disease-care approach, in which you are only treated once you have a disease like cancer, diabetes, or atherosclerosis. In contrast, the blood detective approach, an approach developed by me, is to not only look for signs of obvious disease, but also to look at trends and clues that your blood offers about diseases that are either not included in superficial lab tests, even tests done by many medical specialists, but are found by comparing you to healthy people and not the “average” person. By comparing your lab values to healthier, narrower ranges and looking for hidden, abnormal results that are on the high or low end of normal, you are treated preventively, through nutritional supplementation and dietary and lifestyle changes, to improve your health, symptoms, and reverse developing illness before it is fargone. It is always easier and smarter to prevent a problem than to treat it once it is a full-blown disaster.
Here’s an example: the disease diabetes is increasingly prevalent among adolescents and adults. An internist or endocrinologist looks at a lab test known as HBA1C or glycosylated hemoglobin for an abnormally high value of 6.5% or higher to diagnose and treating a patient for diabetes. In my practice anyone with an HBA1C greater than 5% is placed on a special health plan and nutritional supplements that promotes weight loss, lowering of blood sugar and support healthy insulin production and kidney function – reversing the early or midstream diabetic problem. By the way, HgA1c is not routinely checked on blood work! Unbelievable!
As another example, many women come to me complaining of weight gain, difficulty losing weight and fatigue. Their medical doctors have ordered a CBC to check their blood for anemia, TSH and T3 to check thyroid function and told that all is “normal” and there is nothing for them to do. In my assessment, I would not only check CBC, but various other important blood markers to diagnose any of over a dozen different types of anemias that could be the culprit. I would consider not only total thyroid hormone, but T3, T4 and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), as well as other important hormones that are directly involved with healthy thyroid function, like the hormones testosterone, progesterone and DHEA. I would review these results not only for obvious abnormal highs or lows, but also for sub-clinical highs or lows, so that I could offer treatment both for obvious disease and deficiency and also to prevent discovered trends and patterns leading toward disease and deficiency.