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What does a high level of alkaline phosphatase indicate?

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Quick Answer

People with high levels of alkaline phosphatase may be suffering from liver conditions such as hepatitis, cirrhosis cancer, gallstones or blocked bile ducts, according Healthline. High alkaline phosphatase levels may also indicate bone conditions such as rickets, Paget's disease or cancer, or they may indicate an overactive parathyroid gland. In rare cases, people with high levels of alkaline phosphatase may be suffering from heart failure, kidney cancer, a blood infection or mononucleosis.

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Full Answer

Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme in the blood that is mostly produced in the liver and helps break down proteins, states Healthline. Smaller levels of alkaline phosphatase are produced in the bones, intestines and kidneys as well as the placenta in pregnant women. Doctors may perform an alkaline phosphatase test for patients who are suffering from symptoms related to the liver, such as jaundice, abdominal pain and vomiting. They may also conduct the test for those with symptoms related to liver damage caused by certain medications such as acetaminophen or to investigate vitamin D deficiency.

The normal range of alkaline phosphatase in the blood varies based on age, gender and blood type, notes Healthline. High levels of alkaline phosphatase may occur naturally in pregnant woman and in children going through growth spurts and are not always an indication of a serious medical condition, according to MedlinePlus.

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