Liver Function Blood Tests Explained

Liver Blood Tests Explained

Blood tests and Investigations for Liver Function              
Some of the standard or routine blood tests that your doctor will order to check “liver function” are in reality only able to detect liver damage. These tests may not be sensitive enough to accurately reflect whether your liver is functioning at its optimum level. These tests will usually be abnormal in significant liver disease or liver distress; however, they can still give normal readings in some cases of mild liver disease.  

Healthy ranges for Blood tests for Liver Function

ALT 0 - 45 U/L

GGT 0 - 45 U/L

AST 0 - 45 U/L

ALP 30 - 120 U/L

BILIRUBIN 0 - 20 U/L or 0.174 to 1.04 mg/dL

ALBUMIN 38 – 55 g/L or 3.8 to 5.5g/dL 

AFP 20 – 32 g/L or 2 to 3.2g/dL

ALT (alanine aminotransferase), sometimes called SPGT just to confuse us,  is elevated showing inflammation of the liver.
Our ALT shows up high whenever our liver is dealing with any infection or poison or even a hard to digest food such as fried meat. It is common for them to be high in people who have recently had alcohol or paracetamol. With infections, and these can be other diseases like flu or an septic wound they go up as the liver fights back. If they are constantly in the 50 to 200 range we term the hepatitis B infection active. ALT's range from 0 up to 3000 or so in many acute hepatitis cases. They change with every meal so it is important not to panic if they go from 20 to 45 after a few months. All scores below 45 indicate a perfectly healthy score.

GGT (gamma glutamyl transpeptidase) is elevated in those who use alcohol or toxins.
Our GST shows up high between 50 and 200 if we are often taking paracetamol or using alcohol a lot. It is often a sign of alcoholism or longer term liver damage, but can be reversed by adopting a alcohol free or toxin free lifestyle.

If our Bilirubin is elevated, the patient may have a yellow colour skin and eyes, jaundice. Bilirubin is a bile product made by the liver to digest food and it often is overproduced when we first get Hepatitis B or C, then it back fires into the blood stream causing the yellow effect to eyes and skin. It can cause itching and skin irritation as it is sweated out. If it goes up during chronic Hepatitis B or C infection it is a sign of poor food and drink or liver disease. Milk thistle herbal pills are proven to help lower Bilirubin scores so many Hepatitis patients take it.

AFP (Alpha Feta Globulin Protein). If our AFP is elevated it usually mean excessive inflammation in the liver and/or immune system. Very high levels may be seen in some types of cancers. It is important the many women diagnosed during pregnancy remember it goes up sometimes because of Pregnancy, a score of 40 g/l is not a sign of liver cancer, scores that may indicate a cancer tend to be in the hundreds

AST (aspartate aminotransferase) also called SGOT, is elevated in heart, muscle and liver diseases.

ALP (alkaline phosphatase) is elevated in many types of liver and non liver disease.

ALBUMIN falling levels of blood albumin show deteriorating liver function.

Up to 80% of Hepatitis B and C patients usually have normal, perfectly healthy scores for liver function, these are termed inactive or healthy patients.

Viral Hepatitis Liver Tests – the 4 main Results and Stages
Viral Hepatitis Patients tend to present with 4 types of LFT Result, 3 factors most affect the liver results 
Viral Load, Time Infected and Toxins

Stage 1 - All Normal 
Means hepatitis is having little effect and you are best monitored yearly for activity

Stage 2 - ALT is persistently above 50 but your LFT’s are Normal
Means you have an active hepatitis infection which over decades can cause 
Fibrosis without additional toxins like alcohol or being overweight and is best treated at some point and slowed with a liver friendly diet

Your Liver Team should provide a Personalised Care Plan if

Stage 3 - ALT/AST/GGT are 50 to 200 
Usually means you have taken liver toxins that worsen viral hepatitis eg alcohol, barbiturates, 
benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, warfarin, antidepressants, paracetamol, 
or you may also have fatty liver from obesity

Stage 4 - GGT /ALT are 50 to 200 and ALP is above 200
Liver cells are damaged Cirrhosis and Fibrosis have occurred, liver functions 
can fall, tumours can occur. The author of this site was diagnosed in this stage 12 years ago,
point being a liver friendly diet, treatment and he is fine now.
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