Here’s the scoop on ALT. Alanine transaminase, or ALT, plays an important role in the body, so it is important to maintain safe levels of ALT. If your ALT levels are elevated, then you and your medical professional might look into some potentially serious health issues. Check out the following to learn more and understand why you need to know about your ALT.
The basics of ALT
ALT is an enzyme found mostly in the liver, but it can also be found in your plasma and other bodily tissue. Elevated ALT may suggest a variety of health issues, like hepatitis, liver damage, mononucleosis, diabetes, heart failure, and more.
There are instances where unusual ALT levels may not necessarily point to disease. Medications or choline deficiency may cause elevated ALT, and exercise can affect ALT levels as well. If you have elevated levels of ALT, it might call for further testing of other enzymes
Get your ALT tested
ALT testing is important for anyone concerned about their liver health and at risk for conditions associated with elevated ALT. If you have been diagnosed with an ALT related illness, then repeating the test can help you and your provider determine how well you are responding to treatment and if your illness is progressing.
Various tests may list the normal range for ALT levels differently. It is common for test results to be read according to gender since average levels in males and females vary. Since reference ranges vary by test, it is best to trust professionals administering and ordering such tests to determine the appropriate range for you.
Because ALT is primarily found in the liver, elevated ALT levels are a primary means of determining liver health problems. Liver damage can occur from things like lead poisoning, mononucleosis, hepatitis, narcotics, and alcohol abuse.
In the past ALT levels were used as the sole means to screen those donating blood to rule out the possibility of passing on hepatitis from donor to receiver. It has been reported that the American Red Cross used such tests historically, but they now screen donated blood more directly for hepatitis antibodies and antigens along with other routine infectious agents.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications may be a cause of elevated ALT. Medications like aspirin, statins, and antibiotics can elevate your ALT levels. Patients at a higher risk of having elevated ALT levels are often are taking such medications in moderate or high doses for long periods.
People receiving chemotherapy treatments can be at risk of higher than usual levels. Make sure that you are screened prior to starting chemotherapy and monitor your levels throughout treatment. The medical professionals who administer your chemotherapy are often able to determine the best course of action when lab tests raise flags, which might mean adjusting your dose, changing other medications, and more.
Elevated ALT levels can be caused by a number of factors, which proves that many people should have their ALT levels checked. Whether you know you have an illness that requires monitoring of ALT levels or you have risk factors, like extended medication use or chemotherapy treatments, it makes sense to get yourself checked.
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