There are many reasons why a person would want to test himself for inflammatory markers in the privacy of his own home using FDA-approved Certified Clinical Laboratory tests. A wish to actively manage one’s own health care, a lack of insurance and/or financial resources to visit a health care practitioner, or a wish to keep test results private, are but three reasons.
Home or online test kits are also attractive to dental and other health care specialty offices wanting to improve client care. When patients prefer to control their own lab results, online labs and home test kits are an answer.
Several online labs that offer these tests and home test kits are available. Be consistent in your lab choice, as variations between individual labs exist due to different testing methods.
Where Can I Find Test Kits?
The number of labs from which you can order your own tests is growing exponentially. For instance, Health Home Test and True Health Labs offer an excellent suite of FDA approved in-office or in-home tests at reasonable costs. They offer kits that screen for tests mentioned in Mouth Matters: hsCRP, the A1C, and a lipid profile that measures total cholesterol, LDLs, triglycerides, and HDLs. Another company, Direct Labs, offers the same tests, but also measures the all-important VLDL in their lipid panel. VLDLs are the cholesterols most associated with atherosclerosis. Anyone can order a test from Direct Labs, but they must visit a LabCorp lab (3000 US locations) for the test and log on to a portal with any mobile device or a computer for results.
Mouth Matters introduced hsCRP levels, but beyond knowing what levels of the marker predict heart attack risk, home testers should know several other things. The high sensitivity CRP test (hsCRP) is used to determine risk for heart disease because it measures a particular inflammatory molecule called CRP in the range from 0.5 to 10 mg/L.
A less sensitive test measuring the same marker is usually ordered when a patient has a known chronic inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, an active bacterial or viral infection, or if they suffer from obesity. The tested range is much greater – from 10 to 1000 mg/L. If you have had a recent illness, infection, or suffered recent tissue damage, CRP levels will be elevated and you will not receive an accurate result.
Some doctors will look more deeply into health issues if elevated hsCRP levels continue after successful treatment for a known inflammatory condition like gum disease. Continuing elevated CRP levels clue the practitioner that a patient has some other undiagnosed health issue – cancer, an autoimmune disease, or a chronic condition like diabetes.
Keep in mind that anti-inflammatory medications like statins or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs like aspirin or ibuprofen) usually reduce CRP levels in blood.
It is well known that most people do not see their health care practitioners as often as recommended. The typical person does not make an appointment until they are not feeling well or until a concerned family member or friend makes an appointment. By that time, it is possible, even probable, that the impacts of a developing or untreated disease state like diabetes may have already begun to set in. Early detection is key to curbing and reducing the growing epidemic of diabetes and other disease states. Given the opportunity and the right tools, individuals can take an active role in managing their own healthcare.
Home lab tests are not a substitute for routine check-ups. They simply offer their products as an easy and convenient way to jumpstart a person’s “ownership” of their own health.