Q:

What is AST and what do high levels in a medical test indicate?

A:

Quick Answer

AST refers to an enzyme that is usually found in the heart, liver and muscle, states Healthline. The enzyme may also be found in the bloodstream and other tissues. High levels of the enzyme, which may be 10 times the normal range, may signal viral hepatitis infection.

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Full Answer

AST, also known as aspartate aminotransferase, test is done to determine the amount of AST in the blood, and is used along with alanine aminotransferase to see if a person is suffering from liver disease, according to Healthline. Conditions that may trigger the doctor to diagnose for the disease include yellowing of the skin or eyes, nausea, vomiting, extreme itching, or fatigue.

AST test is done on a blood sample, and no unusual preparations are necessary, explains Healthline. Risks of this test include continuous bleeding, discomfort during withdrawal of the blood, pain at the site and trouble when obtaining the blood. The patient may faint due to excessive blood loss, get an infection, or suffer from hematoma, a condition where blood builds up underneath the skin.

Normally, the test reads between 10 to 34 IU/L, but the test may differ from laboratory to laboratory, according to MedlinePlus. Heart attack, cirrhosis, hepatitis, pancreatitis and liver cancer may trigger high AST levels. Seizure, deep burns, surgery and heart prognosis may also elevate the levels.

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