If you attended a 9Health Fair this spring, you may be asking yourself, “What do my results mean?” Your lab results measure and tell you the amount of certain key elements that are critical to the appropriate function of your body’s organ system. All labs have a normal reference range that tells you if the level of what you are measuring is within normal limits.
We hosted a special Results Week on Facebook Live and covered four common results or conditions that are good to keep tabs on. We looked at what your numbers mean and what lifestyle changes to make if you are out of range. We talked about thyroid health, heart health, diabetes risk, and vitamin D.
Thyroid function is measured by looking at your TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) level through the blood chemistry screening you can get at a 9Health Fair. TSH is the pituitary hormone that controls thyroid gland function. The target TSH range is .40 – .45 IU/L. When the thyroid gland fails due to primary disease of the thyroid, pituitary TSH increases. This condition is called hypothyroidism. In contrast, when the thyroid gland is overactive and producing too much thyroid hormone, the serum TSH decreases. This is called primary hyperthyroidism. We talked with Dr. Michael McDermott, a member of the 9Health Medical Advisory Committee and the director of the endocrinology and diabetes program at University of Colorado Hospital about thyroid health, you can find our full episode with him by clicking here.
Dr. McDermott also talked with us about heart health. There are several values on your 9Health Fair blood chemistry results to check to see how healthy your heart is:
Cholesterol – Your total cholesterol number should be under 200. Elevated levels have been shown to be associated with a higher risk of heart disease and clogged blood vessels.
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio – Obtained by comparing the total cholesterol level to the HDL cholesterol level. The higher this number is, the higher your risk is of developing a cardiac disease and/or having a cardiac event such as a stroke or heart attack.
HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) – One of several types of fats. It is referred to as the “good cholesterol” because it acts as a scavenger, removing excess cholesterol from artery walls. It has been shown that the higher the level of HDL cholesterol the lower the risk of developing heart disease.
LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) – Part of the “total cholesterol.” This is the cholesterol that forms deposits on artery walls. The lower the amount of LDL cholesterol, the lower the risk of developing heart disease.
Triglycerides –This is a blood fat that may be related to a higher risk of heart disease. Elevated levels may be caused by food and alcohol. Fasting for all screenings at a 9Health Fair is option and if you don’t fast there are different ranges that will be used.
This year, 9Health also offered an hsCRP (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein) screening. It’s an additional blood test to help determine your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by measuring the amount of overall inflammation in your body. Research has shown that chronic inflammation may occur within the arteries of the heart and may play a role in the development and progression of heart disease. To watch our full interview with Dr. McDermott about heart health, click here.
On the third episode of Results Week, we talked with Emily Kosirog, PharmD, a clinical pharmacist with Salud Family Health Centers and the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy. We discussed diabetes risk and what values to look at on your 9Health Fair results. One of the best indicators is Hemoglobin A1c, is a test that you can get in addition to the blood chemistry screening and it measures average blood sugar control for the past 2 to 3 months. It can be a good indicator for your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and for people living with type 2 diabetes, it indicates how well your treatment plan is working. The normal range for Hemoglobin A1c is between 4% and 5.6%. If your Hemoglobin A1c is between 5.7% and 6.4%, you are pre-diabetic, meaning you are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
Generally, there are no symptoms of pre-diabetes, but some common risk factors are:
- Physical inactivity
- Family history of diabetes
- High-risk race (African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander)
- High blood pressure
- Low HDL cholesterol, and/or high triglycerides
- History of cardiovascular disease
If your Hemoglobin A1c is 6.5% or higher, you are considered diabetic. Some common symptoms you may be experiencing are:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Increased appetite
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing infections
- Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands/feet
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people who fall into the “prediabetic” category (A1c between 5.7% and 6.4%) have their Hemoglobin A1c tested every one to two years to check for type 2 diabetes. Click here to watch our full episode on diabetes.
For the last episode we discussed Vitamin D with Tony Saiz, a registered pharmacist from Safeway Pharmacy in Denver. The Vitamin D test is also something you can get in addition to the blood chemistry screening at a 9Health Fair. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium to form and maintain strong bones and is primarily obtained through sun exposure and diet. Most people don’t get enough Vitamin D. Your body uses the sunshine to make it. In the winter, people often spend more time indoors and don’t get enough sun. Also, using sunscreen, which helps prevent skin cancer, reduces the amount of sun your body gets.
Your Vitamin D level should be between 30-100 ng/mL. To raise your levels of Vitamin D:
Get more sun – Exposure without sunscreen of arms and legs to the sun for 10-15 minutes a few days a week permits the body to make the vitamin D it needs. Darker skinned people require more sun exposure to make adequate vitamin D.
Change your diet – The following foods contain vitamin D – egg yolk, liver, oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon and foods with added vitamin D.
Take a supplement – The amount of Vitamin D you need changes as you get older and you can ask a pharmacist about the dose you need to take. Typically, infants starting at 2 months old, children and teens need 200 to 400 International Units (IU) a day. Adults up to age 50 need 400 to 800 IU a day. Adults age 50 or older need 800 to 1,000 IU a day. Again, ask your pharmacist about the dose that is right for you.
When will you get your 9Health Fair results?
If you took advantage of online registration, you will receive your results electronically, one to two weeks after attending your 9Health Fair. If you registered in person, by filling out a participant registration form at the 9Health Fair itself, you will receive your results via mail to the address you provided on the registration form. Your results should arrive within four weeks of when you attended the 9Health Fair.
If any of your measurements on your results are outside of the normal range, it may indicate a problem. You and your health care provider can work on discovering and correcting whatever is causing the abnormal value. Sometimes the numbers on your results can be hard to understand, click here for commonly asked questions and other resources. You can also check out this Facebook Live interview about results with the nurses at 9Health.
9Health is a 501c-3 community non-profit empowering people to put health in their own hands by providing tools such as preventive health screenings, evidence-based, objective health education and etools and resources for every day in your health journey.