All you need to know about bloodwork

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    All you need to know about bloodwork


    I recently had some bloodwork done and wanted to educate myself about the results. This is what I found.



    Hi all, There has been alot of questions concerning bloodwork on the board lately so I figured that this article was never posted here before.. It gives all the bloodwork info that you will need... It is long but very informative . The hormone info is towards the bottom...




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    Level With Me, Doc… How Long Have I Got?
    A Comprehensive Look at Lab Tests
    by C, Colston

    You just had some blood work done, and the friggin' doctor or his nurses are guarding the results as if they're state secrets. However, after much cajoling and explaining that you'd like to at least be an informed partner in your own goshdarn health care, they begrudgingly give you a copy of your lab tests.

    Trouble is, as much as you've been posturing about how you've had more than a smattering of medical education, you still can't figure out what half the tests are for and whether or not those abnormal values are anything to worry about.

    Well, in the following article, I'm going to go over each of the most common tests. I'll include why it's performed, what it tells you, and what the typical ranges are for normal humans. That way, you'll have something more to go on in assessing your health other than your family doctor saying, "Well, these few values are a little worrisome, but you'll probably be okay."

    One note, though, before I get started. The values I'll be listing are merely averages and the ranges may vary slightly from laboratory to laboratory. Also, if there's only one range given, it applies to both men and women.


    Lipid Panel — Used to determine possible risk for coronary and vascular disease. In other words, heart disease.


    HDL/LDL and Total Cholesterol

    These lipoproteins should look rather familiar to most of you. HDL is simply the "good" lipoprotein that acts as a scavenger molecule and prevents a buildup of material. LDL is the "bad" lipoprotein which collects in arterial walls and causes blockage or a reduction in blood flow. The total cholesterol to HDL ratio is also important. I went in to detail about this particular subject — as well as how to improve your lipid profile — in my article "Bad Blood".

    Nevertheless, a quick remonder: your HDL should be 35 or higher; LDL below 130; and total to HDL ratio should be below 3.5. Oh and don't forget VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) which can be extremely worrisome. You should have less than 30 mg/dl in order to not be considered at risk for heart disease.

    On a side note, I'm sure some of you are wishing that you had abnormally low plasma cholesterol levels (as if it's something to brag about), but the fact is that having extremely low cholesterol levels is actually indicative of severe liver disease.


    Triglycerides

    Triglycerides are simply a form of fat that exists in the bloodstream. They're transported by two other culprits, VLDL and LDL. A high level of triglycerides is also a risk factor for heart disease as well. Triglycerides levels can be increased if food or alcohol is consumed 12 to 24 hours prior to the blood draw and this is the reason why you're asked to fast for 12-14 hours from food and abstain from alcohol for 24 hours. Here are the normal ranges for healthy humans.

    16-19 yr. old male
    40-163 mg/dl

    Adult Male
    40-160 mg/dl

    16-19 yr. old female
    40-128 mg/dl

    Adult Female
    35-135 mg/dl


    Homocysteine

    Unfortunately, this test isn't always ordered by the doctor. It should be. Homocysteine is formed in the metabolism of the dietary amino acid methionine. The problem is that it's a strong risk factor for atherosclerosis. In other words, high levels may cause you to have a heart attack. A good number of lifters should be concerned with this value as homocysteine levels rise with anabolic steroid usage.

    Luckily, taking folic acid (about 400-800 mcg.) as well as taking a good amount of all B vitamins in general will go a long way in terms of preventing a rise in levels of homocysteine.

    Normal ranges:

    Males and Females age 0-30
    4.6-8.1 umol/L

    Males age 30-59
    6.3-11.2 umol/L

    Females age 30-59
    4.5-7.9 umol/L

    >59 years of age
    5.8-11.9 umol/L


    The Hemo Profile

    These are various tests that examine a number of components of your blood and look for any abnormalities that could be indicative of serious diseases that may result in you being an extra in the HBO show, "Six Feet Under."


    WBC Total (White Blood Cell)

    Also referred to as leukocytes, a fluctuation in the number of these types of cells can be an indicator of things like infections and disease states dealing with immunity, cancer, stress, etc.

    Normal ranges:

    4,500-11,000/mm3


    Neutrophils

    This is one type of white blood cell that's in circulation for only a very short time. Essentially their job is phagocytosis, which is the process of killing and digesting bacteria that cause infection. Both severe trauma and bacterial infections, as well as inflammatory or metabolic disorders and even stress, can cause an increase in the number of these cells. Having a low number of neutrophils can be indicative of a viral infection, a bacterial infection, or a rotten diet .

    Normal ranges:

    2,500-8,000 cells per mm3


    RBC (Red Blood Cell)

    These blood cells also called erythrocytes and their primary function is to carry oxygen (via the hemoglobin contained in each RBC) to various tissues as well as giving our blood that cool "red" color. Unlike WBC, RBC survive in peripheral blood circulation for approximately 120 days. A decrease in the number of these cells can result in anemia which could stem from dietary insufficiencies. An increase in number can occur when androgens are used. This is because androgens increase EPO (erythropoietin) production which in turn increases RBC count and thus elevates blood volume. This is essentially why some androgens are better than others at increasing "vascularity." Anyhow, the danger in this could be an increase in blood pressure or a stroke.

    Androgen-using lifters who have high values should consider making modifications to their stack and/or immediately donating some blood.

    Normal ranges:

    Adult Male
    4,700,000-6,100,000 cells/uL

    Adult Female
    4,200,000-5,400,000 cells/uL


    Hemoglobin

    Hemoglobin is what serves as a carrier for both oxygen and carbon dioxide transportation. Molecules of this are found within each red blood cell. An increase in hemoglobin can be an indicator of congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, sever burns, or dehydration. Being at high altitudes, or the use of androgens, can cause an increase as well. A decrease in number can be a sign of anemia, lymphoma, kidney disease, sever hemorrhage, cancer, sickle cell anemia, etc.

    Normal ranges:

    Males and females 6-18 years
    10-15.5 g/dl

    Adult Males
    14-18 g/dl

    Adult Females
    12-16 g/dl


    Hematocrit

    The hematocrit is used to measure the percentage of the total blood volume that's made up of red blood cells. An increase in percentage may be indicative of congenital heart disease, dehydration, diarrhea, burns, etc. A decrease in levels may be indicative of anemia, hyperthyroidism, cirrhosis, hemorrhage, leukemia, rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy, malnutrition, a sucking knife wound to the chest, etc.

    Normal ranges:

    Male and Females age 6-18 years
    32-44%

    Adult Men
    42-52%

    Adult Women
    37-47%


    MCV (Mean Corpuscular Volume)

    This is one of three red blood cell indices used to check for abnormalities. The MCV is the size or volume of the average red blood cell. A decrease in MCV would then indicate that the RBC's are abnormally large(or macrocytic), and this may be an indicator of iron deficiency anemia or thalassemia. When an increase is noted, that would indicate abnormally small RBC (microcytic), and this may be indicative of a vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency as well as liver disease.

    Normal ranges:

    Adult Male
    80-100 fL

    Adult Female
    79-98 fL

    12-18 year olds
    78-100 fL


    MCH (Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin)

    The MCH is the weight of hemoglobin present in the average red blood cell. This is yet another way to assess whether some sort of anemia or deficiency is present.

    Normal ranges:

    12-18 year old
    35-45 pg

    Adult Male
    26-34 pg

    Adult Female
    26-34 pg


    MCHC (Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration)

    The MCHC is the measurement of the amount of hemoglobin present in the average red blood cell as compared to its size. A decrease in number is an indicator of iron deficiency, thalassemia, lead poisoning, etc. An increase is sometimes seen after androgen use.

    Normal ranges:

    12-18 year old
    31-37 g/dl

    Adult Male
    31-37 g/dl

    Adult Female
    30-36 g/dl


    RDW (Red Cell Distribution Width)

    The RDW is an indicator of the variation in red blood cell size. It's used in order to help classify certain types of anemia, and to see if some of the red blood cells need their suits tailored. An increase in RDW can be indicative of iron deficiency anemia, vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anemia, and diseases like sickle cell anemia.

    Normal ranges:

    Adult Male
    11.7-14.2%

    Adult Female
    11.7-14.2%


    Platelets

    Platelets or thrombocytes are essential for your body's ability to form blood clots and thus stop bleeding. They're measured in order to assess the likelihood of certain disorders or diseases. An increase can be indicative of a malignant disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, iron deficiency anemia, etc. A decrease can be indicative of much more, including things like infection, various types of anemia, leukemia, etc.

    On a side note for these ranges, anything above 1 million/mm3 would be considered a critical value and should warrant concern and/or giving second thoughts as to whether you should purchase a lifetime subscription to Muscle Media.

    Normal ranges:

    Child
    150,000-400,000/mm3
    (Most commonly displayed in SI units of 150-400 x 10(9th)/L

    Adult
    150,000-400,000/mm3
    (Most commonly displayed in SI units of 150-400 x 10(9th)/L


    ABS (Differential Count)

    The differential count measures the percentage of each type of leukocyte or white blood cell present in the same specimen. Using this, they can determine whether there's a bacterial or parasitic infection, as well as immune reactions, etc.


    Neutrophils

    As explained previously, severe trauma and bacterial infections, as well as inflammatory disorders, metabolic disorders, and even stress can cause an increase in the number of these cells. Also, on the other side of the spectrum, a low number of these cells can indicate a viral infection, a bacterial infection, or a deficient diet .

    Percentile Range:

    55-70%


    Basophils

    These cells, and in particular, eosinophils, are present in the event of an allergic reaction as well as when a parasite is present. These types of cells don't increase in response to viral or bacterial infections so if an increased count is noted, it can be deduced that either an allergic response has occurred or a parasite has taken up residence in your shorts.

    Percentile Range:

    Basophils
    0.5-1%

    Eosinophils
    1-4%


    Lymphocytes and Monocytes

    Lymphocytes can be divided in to two different types of cells: T cells and B cells. T cells are involved in immune reactions and B cells are involved in antibody production. The main job of lymphocytes in general is to fight off — Bruce Lee style — bacterial and viral infections.

    Monocytes are similar to neutrophils but are produced more rapidly and stay in the system for a longer period of time.

    Percentile Range:

    Lymphocytes
    20-40%

    Monocytes
    2-8%



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    Nice post
    http://anabolicminds.com/forum/cycle-info/223429-abscent-minded-log.html
    Quote Originally Posted by csa2179 View Post
    Pin the kittens with the tren, then attack the judges with the kittens, uppity bastards
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    Sodium

    This cation (an ion with a postive charge) is mainly found in extracellular spaces and is responsible for maintaining a balance of water in the body. When sodium in the blood rises, the kidneys will conserve water and when the sodium concentration is low, the kidneys conserve sodium and excrete water. Increased levels can result from excessive dietary intake, Cushing's syndrome, excessive sweating, burns, forgetting to drink for a week, etc. Decreased levels can result from a deficient diet , Addison's disease, diarrhea, vomiting, chronic renal insufficiency, excessive water intake, congestive heart failure, etc. Anabolic steroids will lead to an increased level of sodium as well.

    Normal range:

    Adults
    136-145 mEq/L


    Potassium

    On the other side of the spectrum, you have the most important intracellular cation. Increased levels can be an indicator of excessive dietary intake, acute renal failure, aldosterone-inhibiting diuretics, a crushing injury to tissues, infection, acidosis, dehydration, etc. Decreased levels can be indicative of a deficient dietary intake, burns, diarrhea or vomiting, diuretics, Cushing's syndrome, licorice consumption, insulin use, cystic fibrosis, trauma, surgery, etc.

    Normal range:

    Adults
    3.5-5 mEq/L


    Chloride

    This is the major extracellular anion (an ion carrying a negative charge). Its purpose it is to maintain electrical neutrality with sodium. It also serves as a buffer in order to maintain the pH balance of the blood. Chloride typically accompanies sodium and thus the causes for change are essentially the same.

    Normal range:

    Adult
    98-106 mEq/L


    Carbon Dioxide

    The CO2 content is used to evaluate the pH of the blood as well as aid in evaluation of electrolyte levels. Increased levels can be indicative of severe diarrhea, starvation, vomiting, emphysema, metabolic alkalosis, etc. Increased levels could also mean that you're a plant. Decreased levels can be indicative of kidney failure, metabolic acidosis, shock, and starvation.

    Normal range:

    Adults
    23-30 mEq/L


    Glucose

    The amount of glucose in the blood after a prolonged period of fasting (12-14 hours) is used to determine whether a person is in a hypogly***ic (low blood glucose) or hypergly***ic (high blood glucose) state. Both can be indicators of serious conditions. Increased levels can be indicative of diabetes mellitus, acute stress, Cushing's syndrome, chronic renal failure, corticosteroid therapy, acr*****ly, etc. Decreased levels could be indicative of hypothyroidism, insulinoma, liver disease, insulin overdose, and starvation.

    Normal range:

    Adult Male
    65-120 mg/dl

    Adult Female
    65-120 mg/dl


    BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen)

    This test measures the amount of urea nitrogen that's present in the blood. When protein is metabolized, the end product is urea which is formed in the liver and excreted from the bloodstream via the kidneys. This is why BUN is a good indicator of both liver and kidney function. Increased levels can stem from shock, burns, dehydration, congestive hear failure, myocardial infarction, excessive protein ingestion, excessive protein catabolism, starvation, sepsis, renal disease, renal failure, etc. Causes of a decrease in levels can be liver failure, overhydration, negative nitrogen balance via malnutrition, pregnancy, etc.

    Normal range:

    Adults
    10-20 mg/dl


    Creatinine

    Creatinine is a byproduct of creatine phosphate, the chemical used in contraction of skeletal muscle. So, the more muscle mass you have, the higher the creatine levels and therefore the higher the levels of creatinine. Also, when you ingest large amounts of beef or other meats that have high levels of creatine in them, you can increase creatinine levels as well. Since creatinine levels are used to measure the functioning of the kidneys, this easily explains why creatine has been accused of causing kidney damage, since it naturally results in an increase in creatinine levels.

    However, we need to remember that these tests are only indicators of functioning and thus outside drugs and supplements can influence them and give false results, as creatine may do. This is why creatine, while increasing creatinine levels, does not cause renal damage or impair function. Generally speaking, though, increased levels are indicative of urinary tract obstruction, acute tubular necrosis, reduced renal blood flow (stemming from shock, dehydration, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis), as well as acr*****ly. Decreased levels can be indicative of debilitation, and decreased muscle mass via disease or some other cause.

    Normal range:

    Adult Male
    0.6-1.2 mg/dl

    Adult Female
    0.5-1.1 mg/dl


    BUN/Creatinine Ratio

    A high ratio may be found in states of shock, volume depletion, hypotension, dehydration, gastrointestinal bleeding, and in some cases, a catabolic state. A low ratio can be indicative of a low protein diet , malnutrition, pregnancy, severe liver disease, ketosis, etc. Keep in mind, though, that the term BUN, when used in the same sentence as hamburger or hotdog, usually means something else entirely. An important thing to note again is that with a high protein diet , you'll likely have a higher ratio and this is nothing to worry about.

    Normal range:

    Adult
    6-25


    Calcium

    Calcium is measured in order to assess the function of the parathyroid and calcium metabolism. Increased levels can stem from hyperparathyroidism, metastatic tumor to the bone, prolonged immobilization, lymphoma, hyperthyroidism, acr*****ly, etc. It's also important to note that anabolic steroids can also increase calcium levels. Decreased levels can stem from renal failure, rickets, vitamin D deficiency, malabsorption, pancreatitis, and alkalosis.

    Normal range:

    Adult
    9-10.5 mg/dl


    Liver Function


    Total Protein

    This measures the total level of albumin and globulin in the body. Albumin is synthesized by the liver and as such is used as an indicator of liver function. It functions to transport hormones, enzymes, drugs and other constituents of the blood.

    Globulins are the building blocks of your body's antibodies. Measuring the levels of these two proteins is also an indicator of nutritional status. Increased albumin levels can result from dehydration, while decreased albumin levels can result from malnutrition, pregnancy, liver disease, overhydration, inflammatory diseases, etc. Increased globulin levels can result from inflammatory diseases, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), iron deficiency anemia, as well as infections. Decreased globulin levels can result from hyperthyroidism, liver dysfunction, malnutrition, and immune deficiencies or disorders.

    As another important side note, anabolic steroids , growth hormone , and insulin can all increase protein levels.

    Normal range:

    Adult
    Total Protein : 6.4-8.3 g/dl
    Albumin: 3.5-5 g/dl
    Globulin: 2.3-3.4 g/dl

    Albumin/Globulin Ratio:

    Adult
    0.8-2.0


    Bilirubin

    Bilirubin is one of the many constituents of bile, which is formed in the liver. An increase in levels of bilirubin can be indicative of liver stress or damage/inflammation. Drugs that may increase bilirubin include oral anabolic steroids (17-AA), antibiotics, diuretics, morphine, codeine, contraceptives, etc. Drugs that may decrease levels are barbiturates and caffeine. Non-drug induced increased levels can be indicative of gallstones, extensive liver metastasis, and cholestasis from certain drugs, hepatitis, sepsis, sickle cell anemia, cirrhosis, etc.

    Normal range:

    Total Bilirubin for Adult
    0.3-1.0 mg/dl


    Alkaline Phosphatase

    This enzyme is found in very high concentrations in the liver and for this reason is used as an indicator of liver stress or damage. Increased levels can stem from cirrhosis, liver tumor, pregnancy, healing fracture, normal bones of growing children, and rheumatoid arthritis. Decreased levels can stem from hypothyroidism, malnutrition, pernicious anemia, scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) and excess vitamin B ingestion. As a side note, antibiotics can cause an increase in the enzyme levels.

    Normal range:

    16-21 years
    30-200 U/L

    Adult
    30-120 U/L


    AST (Aspartate Aminotransferase, previously known as SGOT)

    This is yet another enzyme that's used to determine if there's damage or stress to the liver. It may also be used to see if heart disease is a possibility as well, but this isn't as accurate. When the liver is damaged or inflamed, AST levels can rise to a very high level (20 times the normal value). This happens because AST is released when the cells of that particular organ (liver) are lysed. The AST then enters blood circulation and an elevation can be seen. Increased levels can be indicative of heart disease, liver disease, skeletal muscle disease or injuries, as well as heat stroke. Decreased levels can be indicative of acute kidney disease, beriberi, diabetic ketoacidosis, pregnancy, and renal dialysis.

    Normal range:

    Adult
    0-35 U/L (Females may have slightly lower levels)


    ALT (Alanine Aminotransferase, previously known as SGPT)

    This is yet another enzyme that is found in high levels within the liver. Injury or disease of the liver will result in an increase in levels of ALT. I should note however, that because lesser quantities are found in skeletal muscle, there could be a weight-training induced increase . Weight training causes damage to muscle tissue and thus could slightly elevate these levels, giving a false indicator for liver disease. Still, for the most part, it's a rather accurate diagnostic tool. Increased levels can be indicative of hepatitis, hepatic necrosis, cirrhosis, cholestasis, hepatic tumor, hepatotoxic drugs, and jaundice, as well as severe burns, trauma to striated muscle (via weight training), myocardial infarction, mononucleosis, and shock.

    Normal range:

    Adult
    4-36 U/L


    Endocrine Function


    Testosterone (Free and Total)

    This is of course the hormone that you should all be extremely familiar with as it's the name of this here magazine! Anyhow, just as some background info, about 95% of the circulating Testosterone in a man's body is formed by the Leydig cells, which are found in the testicles. Women also have a small amount of Testosterone in their body as well. (Some more than others, which accounts for the bearded ladies you see at the circus, or hanging around with Chris Shugart.) This is from a very small amount of Testosterone secreted by the ovaries and the adrenal gland (in which the majority is made from the adrenal conversion of androstenedione to Testosterone via 17-beta HSD).


    Nomal range, total Testosterone :

    Male

    Age 14
    <1200 ng/dl

    Age 15-16
    100-1200 ng/dl

    Age 17-18
    300-1200 ng/dl

    Age 19-40
    300-950 ng/dl

    Over 40
    240-950 ng/dl

    Female

    Age 17-18
    20-120 ng/dl

    Over 18
    20-80 ng/dl

    Normal range, free Testosterone :

    Male
    50-210 pg/ml


    LH (Luteinizing Hoemone )

    LH is a glycoprotein that's secreted by the anterior pituitary gland and is responsible for signaling the leydig cells to produce Testosterone . Measuring LH can be very useful in terms of determining whether a hypogonadic state (low Testosterone ) is caused by the testicles not being responsive despite high or normal LH levels (primary), or whether it's the pituitary gland not secreting enough LH (secondary). Of course, the hypothalamus — which secretes LH-RH (luteinizing hormone releasing hormone ) — could also be the culprit, as well as perhaps both the hypothalamus and the pituitary.

    If it's a case of the testicles not being responsive to LH, then things like clomiphene and hcg really won't help. If the problem is secondary, then there's a better chance for improvement with drug therapy. Increased levels can be indicative of hypogonadism, precocious puberty, and pituitary adenoma. Decreased levels can be indicative of pituitary failure, hypothalamic failure, stress, and malnutrition.

    Normal ranges:

    Adult Male
    1.24-7.8 IU/L

    Adult Female
    Follicular phase: 1.68-15 IU/L
    Ovulatory phase: 21.9-56.6 IU/L
    Luteal phase: 0.61-16.3 IU/L
    Postmenopausal: 14.2-52.3 IU/L


    Estradiol

    With this being the most potent of the estrogens, I'm sure you're all aware that it can be responsible for things like water retention, hypertrophy of adipose tissue, gynocemastia , and perhaps even prostate hypertrophy and tumors. As a male it's very important to get your levels of this hormone checked for the above reasons. Also, it's the primary estrogen that's responsible for the negative feedback loop which suppresses endogenous Testosterone production. So, if your levels of estradiol are rather high, you can bet your ass that you'll be hypogonadal as well.

    Increased estradiol levels can be indicative of a testicular tumor, adrenal tumor, hepatic cirrhosis, necrosis of the liver, hyperthyroidism, etc.

    Normal ranges:

    Adult Male
    10-50 pg/ml

    Adult Female
    Follicular phase: 20-350 pg/ml
    Midcycle peak: 150-750 pg/ml
    Luteal phase: 30-450 pg/ml
    Postmenopausal: 20 pg/ml or less


    Thyroid (T3 , T4 Total and Free, TSH)


    T3 (Triiodothyronine)

    T3 is the more metabolically active hormone out of T4 and T3 . When levels are below normal it's generally safe to assume that the individual is suffering from hypothyroidism. Drugs that may increase T3 levels include estrogen and oral contraceptives. Drugs that may decrease T3 levels include anabolic steroids /androgens as well as propanolol (a beta adrenergic blocker) and high dosages of salicylates. Increased levels can be indicative of Graves disease, acute thyroiditis, pregnancy, hepatitis, etc. Decreased levels can be indicative of hypothyroidism, protein malnutrition, kidney failure, Cushing's syndrome, cirrhosis, and liver diseases.

    Normal ranges:

    16-20 years old
    80-210 ng/dl

    20-50 years
    75-220 ng/dl or 1.2-3.4 nmol/L

    Over 50
    40-180 ng/dl or 0.6-2.8 nmol/L


    T4 (Thyroxine)

    T4 is just another indicator of whether or not someone is in a hypo or hyperthyroid state. It too is rather reliable but free thyroxine levels should be assessed as well. Drugs that increase of decrease T3 will, in most cases, do the same with T4. Increased levels are indicative of the same things as T3 and a decrease can be indicative of protein depleted states, iodine insufficiency, kidney failure, Cushing's syndrome, and cirrhosis.

    Normal ranges:

    Adult Male
    4-12 ug/dl or 51-154 nmol/L

    Adult Female
    5-12 ug/dl or 64-154 nmol/L


    Free T4 or Thyroxine

    Since only 1-5% of the total amount of T4 is actually free and useable, this test is a far better indicator of the thyroid status of the patient. An increase indicates a hyperthyroid state and a decrease indicates a hypothyroid state. Drugs that increase free T4 are heparin, aspirin, danazol, and propanolol. Drugs that decrease it are furosemide, methadone, and rifampicin. Increased and decreased levels are indicative of the same possible diseases and states that are seen with T4 and T3 .

    Normal ranges:

    0.8-2.8 ng/dl or 10-36 pmol/L


    TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone )

    Measuring the level of TSH can be very helpful in terms of determining if the problem resides with the thyroid itself or the pituitary gland. If TSH levels are high, then it's merely the thyroid gland not responding for some reason but if TSH levels are low, it's the hypothalamus or pituitary gland that has something wrong with it. The problem could be a tumor, some type of trauma, or an infarction.

    Drugs that can increase levels of TSH include lithium, potassium iodide and TSH itself. Drugs that may decrease TSH are aspirin, heparin, dopamine, T3 , etc. Increased TSH is indicative of thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, and congenital cretinism. Decreased levels are indicative of hypothyroidism (pituitary dysfunction), hyperthyroidism, and pituitary hypofunction.

    Normal ranges:

    Adult
    2-10 uU/ml or 2-10 mU/L

    For more info on the thyroid in general, check out my article "The Thyroid Handbook."


    Conclusion

    Hopefully this article will help to shed some light on the questions you have or may have in the future in regards to a blood test . Now perhaps you can truly rest assured after viewing things yourself. Hell, you may even impress your doctor, but wait, this is the same guy who thinks walking for 20 minutes is plenty of exercise for the day!

    Regardless, knowing how to interpret these tests can be a very valuable tool in terms of health and your body building and athletic progress. Use your new knowledge wisely!
    Last edited by Merc..; 12-15-2006 at 02:18 PM.
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    A little more to add to this subject....

    LIVER FUNCTION TESTS

    Liver function tests represent a broad range of normal functions performed by the liver. The diagnosis of liver disease depends upon a complete history, complete physical examination, and evaluation of liver function tests and further invasive and noninvasive tests. Many patients become confused regarding the meaning of a liver function test. This section is designed to describe the basic liver function tests and the meaning for patients.

    The hepatobiliary tree represents hepatic cells and biliary tract cells. Inflammation of the hepatic cells results in elevation in the alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and possibly the bilirubin. Inflammation of the biliary tract cells results predominantly in an elevation of the alkaline phosphatase. In liver disease there are crossovers between purely biliary disease and hepatocellular disease. To interpret these, the physician will look at the entire picture of the hepatocellular disease and biliary tract disease to determine which is the primary abnormality.

    Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT):

    ALT is the enzyme produced within the cells of the liver. The level of ALT abnormality is increased in conditions where cells of the liver have been inflamed or undergone cell death. As the cells are damaged, the ALT leaks into the bloodstream leading to a rise in the serum levels. Any form of hepatic cell damage can result in an elevation in the ALT. The ALT level may or may not correlate with the degree of cell death or inflammation. ALT is the most sensitive marker for liver cell damage.

    Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST):

    This enzyme also reflects damage to the hepatic cell. It is less specific for liver disease. It may be elevated and other conditions such as a myocardial infarct (heart attack). Although AST is not a specific for liver as the ALT, ratios between ALT and AST are useful to physicians in assessing the etiology of liver enzyme abnormalities.

    Alkaline Phosphatase:

    Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme, which is associated with the biliary tract. It is not specific to the biliary tract. It is also found in bone and the placenta. Renal or intestinal damage can also cause the alkaline phosphatase to rise. If the alkaline phosphatase is elevated, biliary tract damage and inflammation should be considered. However, considering the above other etiologies must also be entertained. One way to assess the etiology of the alkaline phosphatase is to perform a serologic evaluation called isoenzymes. Another more common method to asses the etiology of the elevated alkaline phosphatase is to determine whether the GGT is elevated or whether other function tests are abnormal (such as bilirubin)

    Alkaline phosphatase may be elevated in primary biliary cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, PSC, gallstones in choledocholithiasis.

    Gamma Glutamic Transpeptidase (GGT):

    This enzyme is also produced by the bile ducts. However, it is not very specific to the liver or bile ducts. It is used often times to confirm that the alkaline phosphatase is of the hepatic etiology. Certain GGT levels, as an isolated finding, reflect rare forms of liver disease. Medications commonly cause GGT to be elevated. Liver toxins such as alcohol can cause increases in the GGT.

    Bilirubin:

    Bilirubin is a major breakdown product of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is derived from red cells that have outlived their natural life and subsequently have been removed by the spleen. During splenic degradation of red blood cells, hemoglobin (the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen to the tissues) is separated out from iron and cell membrane components. Hemoglobin is transferred to the liver where it undergoes further metabolism in a process called conjugation. Conjugation allows hemoglobin to become more water-soluble. The water solubility of bilirubin allows the bilirubin to be excreted into bile. Bile then is used to digest food.

    As the liver becomes irritated, the total bilirubin may rise. It is then important to understand the difference between total bilirubin, which has undergone conjugation (that is hepatic cell metabolism), and at portion of bilirubin which has not been metabolized. These two components are called total bilirubin and direct bilirubin. The direct bilirubin fraction is that portion of bilirubin that has undergone metabolism by the liver. When this fraction is elevated, the cause of elevated bilirubin (hyperbilirubinemia) is usually outside the liver. These types of causes are typically gallstones. This type of abnormality is usually treated with surgery (such as a gallbladder removal or choleycystectomy).

    If the direct bilirubin is low, while the total bilirubin is high, this reflects liver cell damage or bile duct damage within the liver itself.

    Albumin:

    Albumin is the major protein present within the blood. Albumin is synthesized by the liver. As such, it represents a major synthetic protein and is a marker for the ability of the liver to synthesize proteins. It is only one of many proteins that are synthesized by the liver. However, since it is easy to measure, it represents a reliable and inexpensive laboratory test for physicians to assess the degree of liver damage present in the in any particular patient. When the liver has been chronically damaged, the albumin may be low. This would indicate that the synthetic function of the liver has been markedly diminished. Such findings suggest a diagnosis of cirrhosis. Malnutrition can also cause low albumin (hypoalbuminemia) with no associated liver disease.

    Prothrombin time (PT):

    Another measure of hepatic synthetic function is the prothrombin time. Prothrombin time is affected by proteins synthesized by the liver. Particularly, these proteins are associated with the incorporation of vitamin K metabolites into a protein. This allows normal coagulation (clotting of blood). Thus, in patients who have prolonged prothrombin times, liver disease may be present. Since a prolonged PT is not a specific test for liver disease, confirmation of other abnormal liver tests is essential. This may include reviewing other liver function tests or radiology studies of the liver. Diseases such as malnutrition, in which decreased vitamin K ingestion is present, may result in a prolonged PT time. An indirect test of hepatic synthetic function includes administration of vitamin K (10mg) subcutaneously over three days. Several days later, the prothrombin time may be measured. If the prothrombin time becomes normal, then hepatic synthetic function is intact. This test does not indicate that there is no liver disease, but is suggestive that malnutrition may coexist with (or without) liver disease.

    Platelet count:

    Platelets are cells that form the primary mechanism in blood clots. They're also the smallest of blood cells. They derived from the bone marrow from the larger cells known as megakaryocytes. Individuals with liver disease develop a large spleen. As this process occurs platelets are trapped with in the sinusoids (small pathways within the spleen) of the spleen. While the trapping of platelets is a normal function for the spleen, in liver disease it becomes exaggerated because of the enlarged spleen (splenomegaly). Subsequently, the platelet count may become diminished.

    Serum protein electrophoresis:

    This is an evaluation of the types of proteins that are present with in a patient's serum. By using an electrophoretic gel, major proteins can be separated out. This results in four major types of proteins. These are 1) albumin, 2) alpha globulins, 3) beta globulins and 4) gammaglobulins. This test is useful for evaluation of patients who have abnormal liver function tests since it allows a direct quantification of multiple different serum proteins. If the gamma globulin fraction is elevated, autoimmune hepatitis may be present. In addition a deficiency in the alpha globulin fraction can result in the diagnosis, or a clinical clue, to A. alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. This is a simple blood test that is commonly performed by hepatologists.
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    Thanks!

    ManBeast
    -Saving random peoples' nuts, one pair at at time... PCT info:
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    Very helpful, great post
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    Sweet!! Have some precycle lab results coming in the mail in the next day or so... definitely putting this to immediate use!!
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    Thank u for this!!
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