Wellness Testing at The Institute For Medical Wellness
The hallmark of an IMW Wellness Plan is the IMW Wellness Exam along with the IMW Advanced Wellness Testing (AWT).
We encourage every IMW Wellness Plan member to have an annual Wellness Exam and Testing that includes:
- Comprehensive Personal Medical History
- Comprehensive Family Medical History
- Comprehensive Wellness Exam which may include heart (EKG) and Lung (spirometry) tests as necessary determined by your medical history.
- IMW-AWT is performed and when the results are received, they are reviewed with you in detail for your individual IMW Plan to Better Health.
- IMW Plan for Better Health goals are given and follow-up testing/exam are scheduled as necessary.
So what is in the IMW-AWT?
The IMW-AWT is used along with your medical history and wellness exam to determine your future health risks and to help you identify and lower those risks. Disease processes identified can include elevated cholesterol, heart disease, clotting risk, Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes, Liver, Kidney and Thyroid issues, vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, other Metabolic issues and some new genetic risk factors as well.
There is a tremendous amount of information garnered from the IMW AWT. The “biomarkers” tested may reflect active disease processes and risks but are not necessarily the cause of disease. These biomarkers are produced in response to our diets, lifestyle, stress, genetics and other factors that we are still researching.
How do we treat biomarkers differently than your traditional insurance/corporate/hospital physician?
Traditional offices treat a biomarker as a number without delving further into the what’s and the why’s of what that number represents. The treatment usually consists of a prescription medication that may fix the number, but does not necessarily fix the process that caused the number to be at risk in the first place. This type of treatment can give a false sense of security for one’s health.
At the IMW we prefer to suggest modifications in your diet and lifestyle to improve your biomarkers in a more natural way that truly lowers your risk by helping to fix the process. We only use prescription drugs to reduce these biomarkers if they truly get to the cause/trigger of the medical issue.
For example, I am not a fan of cholesterol lowering medications as these drugs known as statins do not get to the cause of heart disease. Lowering cholesterol by pharmaceuticals does not in my opinion lower heart disease risk.
With that said, the IMW-AWT is useful as a means of seeing where your health is good and not so good.
I will break down the IMW-AWT into the following sections.
Vascular/Cholesterol/lipids- using the NMR Lipoprofile
Genetic- Coagulation, Lipid and MTHFR
Here are just some of the tests included in the IMW-AWT
High sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP) has been recognized for its ability to predict future coronary events in apparently healthy individuals. Recent data has shown predictive value of hsCRP is significantly higher than that associated with traditional or novel biochemical risk markers. Elevated hsCRP is an excellent marker for assessing the potential risk of an MI because acute inflammation increases the potential for plaque rupture.
Excess levels of homocysteine can be associated with heart disease and stroke, and may contribute to arterial wall injury. Arteries damaged by this process are more likely to narrow or close completely due to infiltration of cholesterol during atherosclerosis. Elevated levels of homocysteine in conjunction with cholesterol abnormalities raise the risk of patient’s development of CAD and other vascular complications.
The PLAC test is a blood test that measures the level of Lp-PLA2 in the blood. This enzyme is highly specific to vascular inflammation and is implicated in the formation of rupture-prone plaque. The more Lp-PLA2 found in circulation the greater the risk for heart attack or stroke.
Usually Vitamin D is ordered to assess risk for bone loss related to vitamin deficiency. Recent publications have shown that Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with increased cardiovascular risk, above and beyond established cardiovascular risk factors. The higher risk associated with Vitamin D deficiency is particularly evident among individuals with high blood pressure.
Glucose is a simple sugar that serves as the main source of energy for the body. Blood glucose testing can be used to screen healthy, asymptomatic individuals for diabetes and pre-diabetes because diabetes is a common disease that begins with few symptoms. Occasionally, a blood glucose level may be ordered along with insulin to monitor insulin production.
HbA1c is measured to monitor a person’s diabetes and to aid in treatment decisions. The closer diabetics can keep their HbA1c to < 6%, the better their diabetes is under control. As the HbA1c increases, so does the risk of complications, as well as abnormal cholesterol profiles.
Insulin is measured to help evaluate insulin production, to help determine the cause of hypoglycemia, and to document insulin resistance in patients with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), pre-diabetes or heart disease (especially if overweight), Metabolic Syndrome, or disorders related to the pituitary or adrenal glands.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is used to screen for and help diagnose thyroid disorders; to monitor treatment of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Abnormal levels of TSH are one cause of lipoprotein abnormalities. Before treating cholesterol abnormalities thyroid function must be restored.
Liver and Muscle Enzymes
Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is used to screen and test for liver damage. Some patients taking cholesterol-lowering medications can experience liver damage, and should have their ALT monitored to eliminate this risk.
Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) is used to screen and test for liver damage. Some patients taking cholesterol-lowering medications can experience liver damage, and should have their AST monitored to eliminate this risk.
Creatine Kinase (CK) is used to determine whether you have had a heart attack or if other muscles in your body have been damaged due to injury or medications. A high CK, or one that goes up between the first to the second or later samples, generally indicates that there has been some damage to the heart or other muscles.
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) is used to evaluate and monitor kidney function. Increased BUN levels suggest impaired kidney function and may be a result of therapy and /or some renal conditions. Some lipoprotein abnormalities can occur in patients with diminished renal function.
Increased creatinine levels in the blood suggest diseases or conditions that affect kidney function. These can include death of cells in the kidneys’ small tubes (acute tubular necrosis) caused, for example, by drugs or toxins, reduced blood flow to the kidneys due to shock, dehydration, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis, or complications of diabetes. Some lipoprotein abnormalities can occur in patients with diminished renal function.
Cystatin C is a measure of kidney function. People with some form of chronic kidney disease are at greater risk for developing heart disease than they are from having kidney failure.
Other testing outside the IMW-AWT is also available and discussed below.
Comprehensive Micronutrient Testing
We are what we eat, and what we eat and also do not eat plays an important role in our health, wellness and chance of disease. So how do we know if we are eating the correct diet and obtaining the necessary nutrients? One way is the Comprehensive micronutrient test, performed by Spectracell Labs, and now offered at the Institute For Medical Wellness.
The micronutrient test is a clinically effective diagnostic tool for the prevention and management of chronic disease conditions. There is overwhelming evidence confirming that nutrient deficiencies have been shown to suppress immune function contributing to chronic disease process including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s.
Shown below is a list of the components of the comprehensive nutritional panel.
Vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D, Biotin, Folate, and Pantothenate
Minerals: Calcium, Magnesium and Copper
Amino acids: Asparagine, Glutamine, Serine
Antioxidants: Alpha lipoic acid, Coenzyme Q10, Cysteine, Glutathione, Selenium and Vitamin E
Fatty Acid: Oleic Acid
Metabolites: Choline, Inositol and Carnitine
Carbohydrate Metabolism: Chromium, Fructose Sensitivity, Glucose-Insulin Metabolism
Spectrox Total Antioxidant Function
The beauty of micronutrient testing is that it measures intracellular levels of these nutrients, as it is inside the cell that the nutrients perform their necessary functions. The measurements give readings of how your cells have functioned with these nutrients over the past six months, which allows for a much better evaluation of your overall health. The micronutrient test is performed by Spectracell Labs. This powerful test fits perfectly into our Health and Wellness Program.
Comprehensive Micronutrient Testing may be partially covered by insurance.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know if we are old or young for our age?
Well, the Telomere test can tell us!
Telomeres are sections of genetic material at the end of each chromosome whose primary function is to prevent chromosomal – fraying – when a cell replicates. As a cell ages, its telomeres become shorter. Eventually, the telomeres become too short to allow cell replication, the cell stops dividing and will ultimately die – a normal biological process.
The telomere test as performed by Spectracell Labs can determine the length of an individuals telomeres in relation to their age.
The Patient Telomere Score is calculated based on the individuals telomere length on white blood cells (T-lymphocytes). This is the average compared to telomere length on lymphocytes from a sample of the American population in the same age range. The higher the telomere score, the “younger” the cells. A Telomere Score that is above the average line is desirable.
Serial evaluation of telomere length is an indicator of how rapidly one ages relative to a normal population. Therapies directed at slowing the loss of telomere length may slow aging and age-related diseases.
Please note that this test is not covered by any insurance plans at this time.
Probably my favorite test at the Institute For Medical Wellness!
We all hear that eating fish is good for us. Many believe that it is the fat, more specifically the omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, that are responsible for good health. But there are other types of fats in our diets, most notably the inflammatory Omega-6’s, that oppose the beneficial actions of the Omega-3’s. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a test that could accurately measure these fats, and give us a simple and effective guide to better health through diet, and if necessary supplementation.
The HS-Omega-3 Index is a new test that measures blood levels of the cardioprotective omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, as well as a whole host of other fats present in our blood cells. The test is performed by OmegaQuant Analytics, and offered at the Institute for Medical Wellness.
Below is a simple diagram used to determine if an individuals Omega-3 content is desirable, or undesirable.
As the diagram indicates, the desired HS-Omega-3 Index level is over 8%, but most Americans are at about 4%.
Why do I love this test?
The Omega-3 Index test gives what I call, “actionable information”, that can guide changes in diet and supplement usage to lower your risk of not just heart disease, but many other inflammatory diseases including , but not limited to, Arthritis, Attention deficit disorder, Asthma, Migraines, and many others.
Please note that this test is now covered by all non-Medicaid health insurance regardless of deductibles when drawn as part of the IMW-AWT.
There are many factors involved in stratifying your heart disease risk. But the newest technique I use is called a Heart Scan and uses a Coronary calcium score to gauge your risk. This very quick test uses CAT scan technology to measure the amount of calcium in your coronary arteries.
The calcium score provided by this test gives you an extremely reliable gauge of the plaque present in your coronary arteries, something no other test – even a stress test – can do. The higher the calcium score, the greater the quantity of plaque in your coronary arteries, and the higher the risk for heart attack and other cardiac catastrophes. The coronary calcium score can therefore be used as a yardstick for your coronary plaque. It can also be tracked for its increase, stabilization, or decrease allowing you to tailor your treatment for optimum results.
I like yardsticks.
When a woman thinks she is pregnant and gets a blood test, she wants to know how far along in the pregnancy she is. That is valuable information for her prenatal care. As it relates to heart disease, I like to know, not just yes I have the disease, or no I do not, but if I am at a low, moderate or high risk of developing a worsening of the disease, or worse, of having a heart attack in the near future. The coronary calcium score gives me this information.
I am pleased to announce that a Heartscan that provides a coronary calcium score is an integral part of the Institute for Medical Wellness Health and Wellness Program, and I encourage you to ask if it is right for you!
Please note that this test is not covered by any insurance plans at this time.