AST or Aspartate Aminotransferase is a type of enzyme usually found in red blood cells, heart, pancreas, muscle tissues but is mostly made in the liver. AST was earlier called as Serum Glutamic Oxaloacetic Transaminase or simply SGOT. AST blood test is done to measure AST.
What Does The AST Blood Test Mean?
AST test means Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) test. This test is prescribed by your doctor to know if you have any liver disease and to further diagnose other conditions of it. Usually, the levels of AST are low in the bloodstream but in case of any damage to the liver.
Why Is The AST Blood Test Done?
AST at times can be done as a part of a routine health examination. However, this test is ordered to be done if the person shows any symptoms of a liver problem. Some of the symptoms associated may include but not limited to;
- Weakness, fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea, vomiting
- Abdominal swelling with or without pain
- Legs and Ankles Swelling etc
AST test is also included with some other tests, in the cases where the person has a great risk of liver disease. It may also be done during the treatment to understand the effectiveness of the treatment.
How Is The AST Blood Test Done?
AST test is usually carried out like any other type of blood test on a blood sample. The lab technician collects a sample of blood from either the veins in your arms or hands with a needle into a tube. The blood is tested and the results are sent to the doctor for further analysis.
No specific precaution is to be taken for the test but it’s always suggested to pre-inform the doctor of any medications that you took just before the blood test.
Does AST Blood Test Require Fasting?
No special or specific preparations are needed for this blood test unless mentioned by the doctor in advance (which may not happen in almost all the cases). If in case, along with the AST test is ordered with some other tests then you may have to fast for several hours before the test.
[Also Read: Blood tests that require fasting]
AST Blood Test Normal Range
Usually, the AST levels in the bloodstream are low. The normal values range of the AST blood test in males is 10 to 40 units per Liter of Serum and in females, it is 9 to 32 units per Liter of Serum.
However, this range may vary depending on the type of technique and protocols used by the lab. However, all the labs provide the reference normal range of values available on the report.
AST Blood Test high
A high value of the AST test is when the units per liter of serum value are higher than the normal range. This is a sign of liver damage; however, it may also mean damage to some other organs like heart or kidneys. It is also to be kept in mind that a higher level of these liver enzymes doesn’t necessarily be liver disease.
[Also Read: Diet for elevated liver enzymes]
Causes Of High AST Levels
Abnormal or high values of the AST blood test may be due to any reason like hepatitis, mononucleosis, cirrhosis, or any other liver diseases. Heart problems or pancreatitis can also be a reason behind the high values of AST tests. Some medications can also cause an abnormal level of AST. And above the normal value of the AST test doesn’t always need to be these diseases but can be for any other reason like muscle damage. So the concerned expert physician can best analyze the problem that caused the high AST levels.
AST Blood Test Low
At times the AST test results can be lower than the normal range and that is also considered as a normal condition. Sometimes the AST test result may show the values lower and it has been noticed that no medical concerns are associated with that which means that there is no health problem.
Causes Of Low AST Levels
Few causes of low AST levels can be Uremia, metronidazole, Deficiency of Vitamin B6, and Trifluoperazine.
How To Maintain Normal AST Levels?
Maintaining normal AST levels means to maintain a healthy liver condition. Here are a few ways for maintaining a healthy liver and thereby achieving normal AST levels;
- Healthy weight
- Balanced diet
- Regular exercise
- Stay away from Toxins
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Don’t use contaminated needles
- Personal hygiene items are never to be shared
- Maintain hand hygiene especially while preparing or eating food
AST blood test results are usually only one measure of the biggest picture one may need further tests to know your medical history and the current health condition. Approach your health care provider to better understand the causes of the values of AST and to further know if any more tests are needed, what treatment may be needed if any and any lifestyle and diet changes to be followed for betterment.
Sudheendra is a passionate blogger for 8 years and holds a Degree in Journalism & Mass Communications. His writings particularly focus on health, medicine, diet & lifestyle. For him, everything that interlinks and relates to health & medical world entices him. His write-ups aim at educating people not by just giving facts but by infusing human touch.