Valproic Acid

The Valproic Acid test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Brief Description: The Valproic Acid test is a blood test designed to measure the concentration of valproic acid, an anticonvulsant drug, in the blood. Valproic acid, also known under various brand names such as Depakene, Depakote, and others, is primarily used to treat epilepsy but is also prescribed for bipolar disorder and to prevent migraine headaches.

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: Collect as a trough just prior to next dose.

When and Why a Valproic Acid Test May be Ordered

A healthcare provider may order a Valproic Acid test:

  • Therapeutic Drug Monitoring: After starting treatment with valproic acid, to ensure that drug levels fall within the therapeutic range, ensuring the drug is effective without reaching toxic levels.

  • Regular Monitoring: At periodic intervals to ensure that the therapeutic level is maintained, especially if the patient is not responding to the drug or is experiencing side effects.

  • Change in Medications: If other medications are added or removed from a patient's regimen, since drug interactions might affect valproic acid levels.

  • Noncompliance Suspicion: If a healthcare provider suspects that a patient is not taking their medication as prescribed.

What the Valproic Acid Test Checks For

The Valproic Acid test measures the concentration of valproic acid in the blood to ensure it remains within the therapeutic range. This ensures that the drug is at levels sufficient to control seizures, migraines, or mood episodes without reaching levels that could cause toxicity or side effects.

Other Lab Tests Ordered Alongside the Valproic Acid Test

When monitoring a patient's valproic acid therapy, a doctor may also order:

  • Liver Function Tests (LFTs): Valproic acid can affect liver function, so these tests are crucial to monitor the liver's health.

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): To assess overall health and to detect disorders like anemia or another disease that could affect health.

  • Drug Levels for Other Medications: If the patient is on multiple anticonvulsants or other medications, their levels might also be checked to avoid drug interactions.

Conditions or Diseases that Require a Valproic Acid Test

The Valproic Acid test is primarily ordered for patients with:

  • Epilepsy: To control seizures.

  • Bipolar Disorder: To stabilize mood swings.

  • Migraine: To prevent migraine attacks.

Usage of Valproic Acid Test Results by Health Care Providers

Healthcare providers use the results of the Valproic Acid test to:

  • Adjust Medication Dosage: If the blood level is too high or too low, the dose of valproic acid might be adjusted accordingly.

  • Monitor Side Effects: High levels can be toxic, leading to complications like liver damage, nausea, tremors, and more. Monitoring levels can help in early identification of potential side effects.

  • Evaluate Medication Efficacy: If seizures, mood swings, or migraines are not adequately controlled, it might be because blood levels of the drug are too low, even if within the "therapeutic" range.

Understanding valproic acid levels helps healthcare providers optimize treatment, ensuring maximum therapeutic benefits while minimizing potential side effects and complications.

Most Common Questions About the Valproic Acid test:

Purpose and Indications for the Test

Why is the Valproic Acid test performed?

The Valproic Acid test is conducted to monitor the concentration levels of valproic acid in the blood to ensure that they remain within the therapeutic range. Valproic acid is a medication primarily used to treat seizures, bipolar disorder, and to prevent migraine headaches.

When should one consider getting the Valproic Acid test?

Healthcare professionals typically order the Valproic Acid test after starting a patient on the medication. This helps in adjusting the dose to achieve desired therapeutic levels. Subsequent tests may be ordered at regular intervals or if someone experiences side effects, to ensure that the drug levels are not too high or too low.

Interpreting the Results

What is considered a therapeutic range for the Valproic Acid test?

The commonly accepted therapeutic range for valproic acid in the treatment of epilepsy is between 50 to 100 mcg/mL. However, optimal therapeutic levels might vary based on individual patient factors and the specific condition being treated.

What do results outside the therapeutic range imply in the Valproic Acid test?

Levels below the therapeutic range might mean that the dosage is insufficient to effectively treat the condition, while levels above might indicate potential toxicity. Symptoms of valproic acid toxicity include dizziness, drowsiness, and uncoordinated movements.

Implications and Management

If my Valproic Acid test results are outside the therapeutic range, what should I do?

If the test results are outside the therapeutic range, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional. They might adjust the dosage or check for potential drug interactions or other underlying issues affecting the drug's metabolism.

Test Mechanisms and Specifics

How does the Valproic Acid test differentiate between free and bound forms of the drug?

Valproic acid binds extensively to serum proteins. Some laboratories measure only the free (unbound) fraction, which is pharmacologically active, while others measure the total concentration. It's important to know which type is being measured as it impacts the interpretation of the results.

Are there any interactions or other medications that can influence the Valproic Acid test results?

Yes, several medications can increase or decrease valproic acid levels by affecting its metabolism or clearance. Some of these medications include aspirin, other antiepileptics like phenytoin, and certain antibiotics. It's essential to inform the healthcare provider of all medications and supplements being taken.

Additional Information

Why is it important to maintain consistent levels of Valproic Acid as shown in the test?

Consistent levels of valproic acid are crucial because significant fluctuations can reduce its therapeutic effectiveness or increase the risk of side effects. Maintaining levels within the therapeutic range ensures the medication is effective while minimizing potential adverse effects.

Can food or diet influence the results of the Valproic Acid test?

While food doesn't directly influence the concentration of valproic acid in the blood, it can affect the rate at which the drug is absorbed into the system. Taking valproic acid with food can slow absorption and possibly reduce side effects, but it's crucial to be consistent in how it's taken concerning meals to ensure consistent blood levels.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

The following is a list of what is included in the item above. Click the test(s) below to view what biomarkers are measured along with an explanation of what the biomarker is measuring.

Also known as: Depakene®, Dipropylacetic Acid

Valproic Acid

*Process times are an estimate and are not guaranteed. The lab may need additional time due to weather, holidays, confirmation/repeat testing, or equipment maintenance.

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