What are the other names for this test?
Serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase test, SGOT test, aspartate transaminase test
What is an AST test?
This test helps to determine AST (aspartate aminotransferase) levels in your blood. AST is an enzyme, a protein that proceeds most body functions. AST is often present in your liver, but it is also available in muscles and other tissues in your body. AST may come into blood vessels if you experience cell damage. Abnormal AST levels in your blood may show an ongoing health problem, specifically liver damage.
What is the purpose of this test?
An AST test may perform as an individual but is often conducted with other enzymes that are part of tests, such as a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) or liver panel. This test may help to diagnose liver disease and other health problems with other enzymes. An AST may also use to:
- Screen for the risk factors of liver disease includes overweight, diabetes, alcohol disorders, or a family history of liver problems.
- Diagnose or determine the cause of liver problems.
- Monitor how well your treatment is going for the liver if you have abnormal AST levels.
This test also helps to identify other health problems.
When do I need to take this test?
Your healthcare provider may recommend an AST blood test if you experience symptoms of liver disease.
Symptoms of liver disease
- Loss of weight
- Tiredness or Fatigue
- Urine appears to be dark colored
- Nausea and vomiting
- Light or clay-colored stool
- Belly pain or swelling
- Skin or eyes color turns yellow (jaundice)
- Increased Itching
- Pain or swelling in your ankles
You may also need this test if your family has a history of liver disease or you have a large alcohol intake. Diabetes or some medicines may also lead to liver problems. Conduct an ALT test to see whether you have abnormal AST levels that may lead to liver disease.
What is the procedure for this test?
An AST test is a blood test that often needs your blood sample. The following are the steps for this test after visiting the laboratory.
- Sit in front of your provider. Be relaxed and stay in a fixed position. It is difficult for your provider to collect a blood sample if you do the muscle movement.
- Remove the portion of your cloth from the arm.
- A small needle will inject into a vein in your arm.
- A small amount of blood will collect in a test tube.
- Blood samples will store in the laboratory for examination of an allergy.
- You can go home for regular activities.
- This test usually takes five minutes.
How do I need to prepare for this test?
You do not require special preparation for an AST blood test. You can eat or drink if you ordered only an AST test. If your provider asks for additional blood tests, you may need to fast for at least 12 hours before the tests. You can inform your provider about specific medicines, vitamins, and supplements you use. Do not need to avoid any medications before consulting with a doctor. You can discuss with a healthcare provider any special preparation required for this test.
Are there any risks involved in this test?
An AST blood test has low risks when you give a blood sample. Vein differs from person to person. Some people or children may have difficulty providing a blood sample compared to others. You may experience low risks when the needle injects into your vein, include
- Extreme Bleeding
- Slight pain
- Hematoma (Deposition of blood under the skin)
What do the test results indicate?
An AST test results depend on many factors, such as age, gender, and medical history. The test results may also slightly differ among laboratories. It is because each lab may use different methods for examination.
The recommended range for an AST in men and women is 14 to 20 units per liter (units/L) and 10 to 36 units/L, respectively. Men have slightly higher AST levels compared to women. Adults may have little lower AST levels compared to old.
High AST levels in the blood may develop due to the following reasons:
- Muscle injury
- Liver disease
- Pancreatitis (An inflammation of the pancreas).
- Heart attack or failure
Very high AST levels may indicate the following conditions:
- Liver injury from medicines
- Viral hepatitis
- Cirrhosis - a late-stage liver disease in which healthy cells are replaced with scar tissue. This condition will lead to complete liver damage.
- Shock liver. Shock liver develops due to the less oxygen supply to the blood. It leads to severe liver damage.
Small persistent increases in AST with time may lead to chronic conditions. Because AST is present in other body parts, it may increase due to cell damage outside the liver.
ALT(Alanine Aminotransferase) is another liver enzyme containing a higher concentration in your liver. If your AST levels are high compared to ALT, this may lead to health problems outside your liver. Higher AST levels than ALT may indicate liver problems due to excessive use of alcohol. High AST levels with/without ALT may indicate mild or some form of liver damage.
You can discuss your AST test results about what they mean.
What factors may affect the test results?
If your test shows abnormal results, this does not always indicate a medical problem. Test results may change if you already experience diabetic ketoacidosis or liver problems. Some medicines, diet, age, and sex may also affect your test results.
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What additional tests do I need along with this test?
You may need an ALT blood test along with an AST test. The ALT and AST tests help your provider to observe and diagnose liver conditions.
You may also need an AST test with a series of liver panel tests to measure ALT and other enzymes, proteins, and substances in the liver.