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Aspartate Aminotransferase AST

Also known as: AST,Serum Glutamic-Oxaloacetic Transaminase, SGOT, Aspartate Transaminase,  AST Blood Test

Why do you need to get tested?

The test is taken to identify liver damage and/or to support the diagnosis of liver disease.
A healthcare professional will recommend the test as part of the comprehensive metabolic panel if you exhibit symptoms of liver disorder i.e vomiting and nausea, jaundice, abdominal pain, or infections like hepatitis.
The blood sample is extracted from a vein in your arm.
There is no preparation needed for the ast blood test.
The levels of enzyme Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) present in the blood are tested. AST is present in higher concentrations in the cells around the heart and liver, and in lower concentrations in the kidneys and muscles of healthy individuals. In cases of liver or muscle cell damage, the cells release AST, increasing its concentration in the bloodstream. Thus AST is effective in identifying and tracking liver damage and/or related infections and side effects of certain medications. The liver is a vital organ responsible for several essential functions in the body. It produces bile which breaks down fats and many essential proteins, for example, blood clotting factors. It also assists in processing the body’s nutrients, metabolizing certain medications, and breaking down toxic substances into non-toxic safe substances that can be used or excreted out of the body. Some conditions can damage the liver and increase AST concentration. Hence, the test is effective for identifying liver damage as a result of hepatitis, cirrhosis, alcoholism, and drugs toxic to the liver. AST levels might increase due to conditions pertaining to other body parts besides liver damage, and thus an alanine aminotransferase (ALT) test is recommended alongside AST.
The blood test for aspartate aminotransferase (ast blood test) is effective for identifying liver damage and infections. The ALT test is usually also administered alongside as both these tests ascertain liver injury or the test is taken as part of a liver panel or comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) to assist in the diagnosis of liver conditions. ALT is more likely to be elevated than AST in liver conditions although ALT is more directly associated with the liver. In some scenarios, AST and ALT are compared and a ratio is derived to discern the causes of liver damage and liver damage due to heart or muscle injury. AST concentration in the bloodstream is also compared to other blood tests, for example, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), total protein, and bilirubin to verify the kind of liver disease. AST is also utilized in cases where patients are taking medication that can potentially damage the liver. The test results are observed, and if there is an increase in AST levels, the patient's medication is switched.
AST blood test may be requested as part of a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) during routine health examination. Some of the signs and symptoms of a liver disorder may include:
  1. Weakness, fatigue
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Nausea, vomiting
  4. Abdominal swelling and/or pain
  5. Jaundice
  6. Dark urine, light-colored stool
  7. Itching (pruritus)
  8. Swelling in the legs and ankles
  9. Tendency to bruise easily
The test is requested in situations where there is a high risk for liver disease. Mild liver damage conditions do not exhibit signs and symptoms. The following individuals are potentially at high risk:
  1. Individuals who have been exposed to hepatitis viruses
  2. Heavy drinkers
  3. Family history of liver disease
  4. Are taking drugs that can damage the liver
  5. Overweight and/or have diabetes
AST blood test can be requested repeatedly and frequently during the treatment of individuals with liver disease as it can help track and assess the effectiveness of treatment therapy.
Lower levels of ast blood test are normal. Very high levels of AST (more than 10 times normal) occur as a result of acute hepatitis or viral infection. In cases of acute hepatitis, AST levels generally stay high for 1-2 months. However, this period can extend to 3-6 months before the levels return lower to fall into the normal range. Levels of AST can significantly increase (often over 100 times normal) due to exposure to drugs or other toxic substances that harm the liver and due to conditions that cause diminished blood flow (ischemia) to the liver. AST levels are not very high in cases of chronic hepatitis (often less than 4 times normal) and can be normal in comparison to ALT levels. There are chances of fluctuations between normal to moderate increase and thus the test is often administered frequently. A modest elevation of AST is also found across other diseases of the liver, for example in case of blockage of bile ducts, cirrhosis, and some cancers of the liver. AST can potentially be elevated after heart attacks and with a muscle injury, much higher in comparison to ALT. AST is usually administered along with ALT or as part of a liver panel.
Related Tests Alanine Aminotransferase, (ALT), Alkaline Phosphatase, (ALP), Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase (GGT), Bilirubin total, Liver Panel, Albumin, Total Protein, Albumin-Globulin (A/G) Ratio, Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on November 27th, 2023.
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