Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is an enzyme found mostly in the liver. Smaller amounts are also found in the kidneys, heart and muscles. The ALT test measures the amount of the enzyme in your blood. Normally, ALT levels are low but when the liver cells are damaged they release ALT into the bloodstream. This usually occurs before more obvious symptoms of liver damage can be seen. ALT is typically measured as part of a group of tests that reflect the condition of the liver known as Liver Function Tests (LFTs). These are all performed on the same blood sample and they give information about how your liver is working.
What is being tested?
Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is an enzyme found mostly in the liver; smaller amounts are also found in the kidneys, heart and muscles. Under normal conditions, ALT levels in the blood are low. When the liver is damaged, ALT is released into the blood stream, usually before more obvious symptoms of liver damage occur, such as jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin).
How is it used?
Since plasma albumin is low in many different diseases and disorders, albumin testing is used in a variety of settings to help diagnose disease, to monitor changes in health status with treatment or with disease progression, and as a screen that may serve as an indicator for other kinds of testing.
When is it requested?
What does the result mean?
Is there anything else I should know?
Certain drugs may raise ALT levels by causing liver damage in a very small percentage of patients taking the drug. This is true of both prescription drugs and some ‘natural’ health products. If your doctor finds that you have a high ALT, tell him or her about all the drugs and health products you are taking.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. There are two major forms: acute and chronic. Acute hepatitis is a fast developing disease and typically makes affected persons feel sick, as if they have the flu, often with loss of appetite and sometimes diarrhoea and vomiting. In many cases, acute hepatitis turns urine brown, and colours the skin and eyes yellow. Most affected individuals eventually recover completely. Chronic (long-term) hepatitis usually causes no symptoms, or causes only loss of energy and tiredness; most people don’t know that they have it. In some people, chronic hepatitis can gradually damage the liver and, after many years, cause it to fail.
Other commonly used liver tests include other enzymes found in liver cells, such as aspartate aminotransferase (AST), gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP), as well as bilirubin (a breakdown product from red blood cells removed from the body by the liver and spleen) and albumin (a protein produced by the liver). The doctor will often order these tests together as a group and refer to them as 'liver function tests'.
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