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Blood Testing - A necessity in AAS usage - Part 1
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Blood Testing - A necessity in AAS usage - Part 1 - 01-08-2013, 01:25 AM

A Comprehensive Look at Lab Tests
by Cy Willson

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 varioustissues 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 Mal
11.7-14.2%

Adult Female
11.7-14.2%


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