NeuroTimes | Dec. 8, 2015
Box 1: “My sodium level is slightly low at around 131 mmol/L: is there something wrong?”
Although most healthy people have a sodium value between 133 mmol/L and 146 mmol/L, one in every 40 healthy people will have a reading just below this range. Because you are otherwise well and the level has not changed, it is unlikely to be important.
Box 2: “My coeliac disease blood test result is negative: does this mean I have nothing to worry about?”
The negative test result makes coeliac disease unlikely but does not completely rule it out. However because of your symptoms, I would like to discuss with the gastroenterology specialist whether further investigation for coeliac disease is needed.
Box 3: My cholesterol was 5.7 mmol/L. I improved my diet but now it has gone up to 6.1 mmol/L: why?’
Cholesterol levels vary from day to day depending on such factors as body rhythms, fluid intake, and season of the year. A small change in cholesterol like this is probably due to this natural variation rather than a true rise in value.
Box 4: “My cholesterol is high so why am I not being offered treatment?”
Only people at higher risk of heart disease benefit from cholesterol lowering tablets. Although your cholesterol level is increased, we calculated that your risk of heart disease over the next 10 years is low because you are otherwise healthy, don’t smoke, and have normal blood pressure. The benefit from a cholesterol lowering tablet at this stage is likely to be low and such tablets may also have side effects.
Box 5: “Can I get some cancer blood tests done as part of my health check?”
You have no features that make me worried about cancer. Cancer blood tests are not useful here as they are not very good at picking up cancer; they also give a lot of false positive readings that need further complex tests to sort out and can sometimes lead to unnecessary treatment and anxiety. They are mainly used for following up patients with known cancer. A better approach for picking up cancer is to come back to see me promptly if you have any worrying symptoms.