None of the lab work that is recommended for patients before starting a weight management program (WMP) will preclude them from taking the medication. We’ll discuss why below.
But it’s still helpful to have baseline bloodwork to determine if the patient has any underlying issues that they don’t know about, but should. If lab work uncovers any issues, their primary doctor can start the workup for those newly uncovered conditions. Despite abnormal lab work, they can begin their weight loss journey with GLP-1 receptor agonists (semaglutide, tirzepatide or liraglutide).
What labs should I order?
A reasonable battery of tests to order for a patient considering weigh loss medications include a CBC, CMP, HbA1c and TSH. The CBC checks for any unknown anemia. The CMP evaluates their liver and kidney function, the HBA1c takes a snapshot of their sugars over the last three months and the TSH determines if they’re experiencing hypo- or hyper-thyroidism. But if the lab results won’t affect whether they’re a candidate for the medications, why bother?
What happens if lab work is abnormal?
Anemia found on a CBC isn’t a contraindication to taking Ozempic or similar medication. As mentioned above, that anemia still needs to be worked up. If the CMP shows an abnormality with kidney or liver function, these medications aren’t metabolized by the liver or kidneys. Also, recent studies show GLP1s can help with fatty liver and even improve kidney function in patients with chronic kidney disease.
If the HbA1c is high, then the treatment is type 2 diabetes meds like these GLP1s. And finally, if the TSH is high, suggesting hypothyroidism, then the patient may need thyroxine or other thyroid hormone supplement. But this isn’t suggestive of medullary thyroid cancer, a cancer that resulted in a black box warning on these medications’ FDA approval, but mostly seen in lab rats. Patients at risk for medullary thyroid cancer are typically aware of a family history of this type of cancer or Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN) type 2.
There you have it. Baseline lab tests are helpful, especially in patients new to your practice where their medical history isn’t completely familiar. Lab work can ensure they’re receiving appropriate care, if necessary, as they start their weight loss medications.
How to order lab work?
While you may be used to providing a patient with a prescription to get lab work, it’s important to make the process of getting labs as easy as possible. With the BuildMyHealth WMP platform, we can assist in setting up a lab portal for a national chain to make it easy to order labs. The patient can walk into any location to have their blood drawn and your practice receives the results automatically the next day. Also, our connection to a Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) will provide significant savings to you or the patient, depending on who is paying for the lab work.
It’s possible to include the cost of the labs in whatever coaching or non-coaching program you offer in your practice.
Ready to Start a weight Management Program?
Not sure where to begin? BuildMyHealth WMP (Weight Management Program) offers an easy to follow blueprint, including sourcing of your compounded medication. Get started by clicking here to learn more and get started.
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