Certain prescription medications, alcohol, heart failure, hepatitis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can cause high liver levels. Obesity, liver cancer, cirrhosis, hemochromatosis and hypothyroidism are some other causes of high liver levels, says Mayo Clinic.
High liver levels may signify inflammation or damage to liver cells. An inflamed or injured liver cell releases higher-than-normal amounts of chemicals, including liver enzymes. The most common enzymes released are alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase. These enzymes can result in higher liver levels, reports Mayo Clinic.
Liver levels can be checked upon request through a routine lab test, according to WebMD. Doctors may also check the livers of new patients and those of existing patients during annual physicals. Doctors are more likely to conduct liver tests if a patient has liver disease, is taking medication that can harm the liver, has symptoms of liver or bile system disease, or drinks alcohol excessively. A liver test checks for many different enzymes in the blood, but alkaline phosphatase is the most common.
The liver filters and processes blood that circulates in the body. It performs many vital functions, such as metabolizing nutrients, detoxifying harmful substances and making blood-clotting proteins, states WebMD. The liver also helps to digest fat with the production of bile. Enzymes in the cells of the liver cause these actions. When cells are damaged or destroyed or bile flow is blocked, liver levels rise, which can damage the liver.