Blood Aspartate Aminotransferase Test (AST)
|Why is the test done?||AST is measured in combination with ALT to detect certain liver problems.|
|How to prepare:||
|Associated Tests:||ALT (aspartate aminotransferase), alkaline phosphatase and bililrubin are usually measured along with AST.|
Aspartate aminotransferase is an enzyme required for the body's proper functioning. It is found in all active cells in the body where it plays a major role in the energetic metabolism. It is found in larger quantities in heart muscle, liver, pancreas and red blood cells. When the cells of these organs are affected, they release AST in the blood, thus raising blood AST levels to abnormal levels.
What does an abnormal test result mean?
If the result if too high
Heart damage, from an infarction or the passage of a catheter for example, may raise AST levels. Liver damage, from hepatitis, cirrhosis, mononucleosis or surgery, can also raise blood AST levels. Finally, muscle damage, for example from seizures, a surgery or trauma, can also elevate blood levels.
Factors that can affect the result of the test
Blood levels can be higher due to inappropriate blood sample storage. Vigorous physical activity prior to the test can also affect the result upward. Finally, several drugs increase blood AST levels, such as:
Pregnancy can cause levels to drop.
What you need to know before the test
Before going for blood tests, a procedure or other exam, it is best to always bring a list of all the drugs you take (prescription, OTC and natural health products). Unless told otherwise, you should take your medication as usual on the day of the test. When in doubt, ask your pharmacist for more information.
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