ALT (Alanine Aminotransferase, SGPT)
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ALT is an enzyme found mostly in the liver; smaller amounts are also found in the kidneys, heart, and muscles. When the liver is damaged, ALT is released into the bloodstream, hence increasing the concentration that can be detected in a blood test. This often happens before more obvious symptoms of liver damage occur, such as jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin).
- persons who have a history of known or possible exposure to hepatitis viruses,
- those who drink too much alcohol,
- those whose family have a history of liver disease,
- people who take drugs that might damage the liver
- those who are overweight or who have diabetes
Very high concentrations of ALT (more than 10 times the highest normal level) are usually due to acute (short-term) hepatitis, often due to a viral infection. In acute hepatitis, the concentration of ALT usually stays high for about 1–2 months but can take as long as 3–6 months to return to normal.
ALT concentrations are usually not as high in chronic hepatitis, often less than 4 times the highest normal level: in this case, ALT levels often vary between normal and slightly increased, so doctors may request the test frequently to see if there is a pattern. A moderately high ALT can also occur occasionally when there is high alcohol intake, diabetes or raised serum triglycerides, all of which can cause fatty liver.
In some liver diseases, especially when the bile ducts are blocked (cholestasis), when a person has cirrhosis, or when liver cancer is present, the concentration of ALT may be close to normal.
The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario. Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.
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