Blood Work Analysis – A Functional Medicine Approach
Annual blood work exams are an important part of a physical exam. Blood tests go a long way to prevent disease and offer insight into functional imbalance. Externally a person may appear to be healthy but internally, the blood work analysis will tell the tale even clearer.
Conventional Blood Work
During a typical conventional physical exam, blood work may or may not be requested. If all other aspects seem to be functioning well, your doctor may not see the need to request blood tests. If the doctor does see the need for blood work, however, a routine set of tests is requested that is chosen to cover a wide generalized set of the population.
After the doctor receives the results of the blood work, each result is measured against another standard lab range to determine if the patient is in or out of range. Lab ranges are based on averages of the general population as well. The doctor may determine the patient has a problem where there is none. The doctor may also over or under-prescribe a medication that the patient doesn’t actually need. This doesn’t result in optimal health and longevity. Instead this practice may cause even further health issues.
Functional Blood Work
A functional medicine approach to blood work analysis will differ in that your physician will look at you as a whole person not simply break you down into a heart, liver, kidney, or musculoskeletal system. A functional medicine physician will also look at the functional blood lab ranges not just disease lab ranges along with your health history and alert you if you are in or out of the correct range. Then, instead of prescribing medication, you will be advised on other ways to help regain health.
For instance, a generalize lab range for cholesterol could be 100 – 199. However, the optimal health range for cholesterol should be 150 – 200. Does that mean that a result between 100 – 150 is high cholesterol and that the patient should be on a cholesterol lowering drug? If a physician isn’t looking at the other aspects of the patient’s health, he could be potentially putting the patient at risk.
If a patient is showing signs of high cholesterol both in his blood work and other ways, a functional medicine physician may take a closer look at the patient’s diet, prescribe vitamins or supplements or do further testing.
Assess Risk versus Diagnose
There are also other ways that the functional medicine approach to blood work is different than the conventional approach. Functional medicine, by its very definition, is concerned with how the body is functioning. The blood work analysis is used to assess risk for disease rather than diagnosing disease. In this way, the functional medicine approach is preventative and truly used for maintaining optimal health.
There are different standards of blood analysis based on the preventative approach as well. These are known as functional versus pathological ranges. The pathological range is a lab range used to diagnose disease. The functional lab range is used to assess risk before a disease develops. Traditional medical doctors are trained to look at pathological ranges to determine if a patient is already in trouble, diagnose and then treat. A functional medicine doctor will look for the potential for pathology and alert the patient. In this way, a patient is able to work in conjunction with their functional medicine physician to make lifestyle changes, add nutrition or supplements or pursue other strategies to regain health.
Imbalances in the body can cause inflammation and infection long before it becomes disease. A functional medicine approach to blood work analysis offers a personalized view of your health and works with you to create a strategy for optimal health.
For more information on laboratory analysis, check out this page.