The aspartate aminotransferase (AST) blood test is used to measures the level of aspartate aminotransferase enzyme in the blood. This indicates the damage of the liver. This test is usually a part of the liver function test.
When aspartate aminotransferase is released?
Aspartate aminotransferase enzyme is made by liver cells. Usually, aspartate aminotransferase levels are low, but when the liver is damaged the aspartate aminotransferase levels will be high in your blood. A high level of aspartate aminotransferase in blood indicates liver damage or damage to other organs like heart or kidneys.
Aspartate aminotransferase is released when your liver or muscles are damaged. Mainly aspartate transaminase is found in liver, heart, brain, kidney, muscles and red blood cells and small amounts are found in the bloodstream. It is released into serum whenever any one of these tissues are damaged. Aspartate aminotransferase is also called serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase (SGOT).
Why this test is performed?
This test may be recommended to you if you experience symptoms like yellow skin or yellow eyes, stomach pain, tiredness or weakness, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, swollen abdomen, bleeding difficulties, severe itching, dark coloured urine or light coloured stools, swollen legs or ankles, bruises, weight loss, etc.
This may also be recommended to you even if you do not experience above symptoms but have a family history of liver disease, alcoholism, diabetes, obesity, medicines that cause liver damage (acetaminophen, clopidogrel, estrogens, etc), or to evaluate the treatment.
Some diseases or medicines may interfere with the test results and give you false positive in aspartate aminotransferase test. They include diabetic ketoacidosis and some antibiotics like erythromycin or para-aminosalicylic acid. Hence inform your doctor or technician about all your current medications and medical conditions prior to the test.
Inform your doctor if you are on any medications, have any allergies or underlying medical conditions before your SGOT. Your doctor will give specific instructions depending on your condition on how to prepare for SGOT.
No specific preparation is required for aspartate aminotransferase test.
The normal test results may vary depending on gender, age, health history, etc. Females tend to have low levels than males. It will be more in older individuals.
If your aspartate aminotransferase test levels are higher than normal levels then it may indicate swollen liver or liver inflammation, scarring of the liver, liver ischemia where there is a reduced blood flow to the liver, fatty liver, death of liver tissue, liver cancer, increased levels of iron in the body, heart attack, muscle trauma or muscle injury, inflammation of pancreas, etc. Aspartate aminotransferase levels may also be raised due to severe burns, seizures, surgery or heart procedures. Sometimes aspartate transaminase levels are increased during pregnancy.
In some conditions, aspartate aminotransferase levels are high in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, certain genetic disorders like achondroplasia, autism, etc, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, intramuscular injection, abnormal red blood cell distribution, strenuous exercise, etc.
If you get abnormal test results to consult your doctor immediately. Your doctor may recommend other tests depending on your results.
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