Lab tests aid prevention of heart disease
From the minute the lab technician sticks the needle into the vein bulging from the inside of the elbow to seeing numbers on a lab report questions flood the brain. What are they looking for? What will they find? Why do they have to take so much blood? Will this leave a mark? Can I find out now? When will my doctor call me? Do they know what to do if I faint? Where is the closest place to find food?
Although I can answer some of those questions, some just remain up to the reader to discover the answers. The main reason that people end up half starved in a chair with a tourniquet around their arm is prevention.
A phlebotomist is someone who collects blood samples in a clinical environment. After the blood is drawn, they process and analyze the specimen with sophisticated laboratory equipment. The orders from the physician tell them which tests to run with the blood sample. The amount that they take corresponds with the results expected.
A very popular test to run is a cholesterol panel. The numbers from this test reveal the risks to your health.
Cholesterol is a fat that comes from the food eaten or is made by the body. It travels through the blood stream in tiny pieces. Two main types of cholesterol are the LDL and the HDL particles. The LDL or low density lipoproteins are hazardous to health because they can lead to a buildup of plaque in arteries.
Too much plaque can narrow arteries and restrict blood flow. This is similar to trying to sip water from a clogged straw or a drain pipe with too many leaves in it.
When the flow of blood is reduced the risk of a heart attack or stroke increases greatly.
The HDL or high density lipoproteins are helpful to the body because they are the clean up crew. They pick up the damaging LDL cholesterol and carry it to the liver where it is processed and eventually dumped from the body.
During the past 40 years, dietitians and doctors have been shouting from the rooftops to reduce fatty foods, especially from animals. Low fat, low cholesterol foods have created an entire health food industry.
At one point in medical history, adjusting food choices was the only way to reduce the life threatening cholesterol numbers. Medications have been discovered that are more effective and these drugs take precedence over low fat ice cream and salad dressings for many people.
Controlling cholesterol numbers is currently about what can be eaten, not what is forbidden. Superfoods to a healthier heart should be the headlines.
After the visit to the lab, a healthy breakfast of oatmeal with almonds and walnuts topped with 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed is about as heart healthy as it gets. Just ½ cup of oatmeal daily with a small handful of nuts should dispose of harmful LDLs in the body.
There are many questions surrounding a visit to the lab to give blood for medical tests. My best advice is to eat a heart healthy breakfast everyday as prevention.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a diabetes self-management training program at Aultman-Orrville Hospital, Orrville. Contact her at email@example.com or 330–684-4776.