Category:Test results and what they mean

From DoctorMyhill
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Only too often people come to me with test results which have not been properly interpreted. The reasons why this happens are as follows:

  • Test results are flagged up and considered to be abnormal if they are outside the reference range, but one's individual normal range is not the same as the population reference range. This is a particular problem in the interpretion of thyroid tests.
  • Reference ranges for tests change. Reference ranges are based on random bloods from the population. The trouble is, anyone following a Western lifestyle is not evolutionarily correct and many not be normal! So labs change their reference ranges to adjust for this. So, for example, the normal range of a gamma GT used to be up to 36; it is now up to 70. This enzyme is induced by alcohol and prescription drugs and because so many people drink alcohol it is considered normal to run a high gamma GT! The lab I use has a normal reference range for thyroid hormone T4 of 12-22pmol/l but some labs give ranges of 5.6-17pmol/l!
  • Tests are often incomplete. So, someone with a thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) within reference range will be told they have no thyroid problem, when in fact one also needs a free T4 and a free T3 together with a clinical history to assess if there is a thyroid problem.
  • Drug companies influence normal ranges. The normal range for cholesterol has come down steadily since statins have been such big money-earners for Big Pharma.
  • Incorrect breakdown of test results. Many people are prescribed statins on the basis of a single cholesterol level. This is faulty for many reaons - firstly one needs a breakdown of good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol to get the ratio. If the ratio is not favourable then this is likely to be a symptom of arterial disease. Cholesterol-lowering drugs are often irrelevant.
  • Results close to the limits of normal may be abnormal for that person. For example, a high normal bilirubin may mean Gilbert's syndrome - this means someone is a poor detoxifier. A high mean corpuscular volume (MCV) could point to hypothyroidism, B12 or folic acid deficiency.
  • Normal tests do not mean no pathology. A normal ECG at rest does not mean there is no heart disease, yet many people are told this is the case.
  • Tests may ask the wrong questions. So many people come to me with severe fatigue syndromes having been told nothing is wrong because all the test results are normal!

NOTE - If you are not currently a patient, then you can become one as detailed on this page - My Services - and this also gives you access to ordering tests and having them interpreted by me.

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