Liver Function Blood Test
November 1, 2020
Liver Function Blood Test
Liver Function Blood Test
What is a liver function blood test?
A liver function blood test is performed to look at the liver enzymes which contribute to the health of your liver. Your results will give you an insight to your current liver health, and whether you could benefit from any lifestyle changes. Your liver function test will also pick up any liver issues you might have.
What does your liver do?
Your liver is an amazing organ. As well as being your largest internal organ, it also plays a vital role in keeping you healthy and active. In fact, the liver has over 500 functions associated with it, including:
Regulating blood composition and hormones
Manufacturing Bile for the break-down of fats in the small intestine
Storing essential vitamins and minerals
Producing proteins that allow for clotting of the blood
Purifying blood by clearing out chemicals, medications and alcohol
What to expect from the test?
A liver function test is carried out by taking a blood sample from you. Once your blood sample is taken by one of our specialists, it’s then analysed to check the levels of lots of different enzymes, proteins and toxins produced by or which contribute to the health of your liver.
What does a liver function test check?
A liver function test measures the substances that are created by your liver and released into your blood, including enzymes and proteins. Assessing these can help to identify and diagnose any potential issues. Some of the main enzymes and proteins tested for are:
ALP (Alkaline Phosphotase) - A high level of ALP can indicate health issues such as Cholestasis, where the bile produced by the liver doesn’t flow to the small intestine which stops the breakdown of fats. Elevated levels of ALP can be related to your bones such as fractures, or following starting new medications.
ALT (Alanine Tranaminase) - This is a very specific indicator to damage of the liver cells themselves. A rise in ALT can be caused by drug use, even with commonly prescribed medications such as Amoxicillin and oral contraceptives.
AST (Aspartate Transaminase) - Elevated levels can appear in conjunction with ALT causing Cytolysis (destruction of cells). This can indicate liver damage, as seen in cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), and diseases like Hepatitis C. People who have blood types in the B and O groups are more likely to see elevation in this pair of liver enzymes.
GGT (Gamma-glutamyl transferase) - Higher levels of GGT can be caused by a blockage in the bile ducts connecting the liver to the intestine. Blocking the bile ducts can lead to a build-up of bile in the liver, infection of the bile ducts, and gallstones. Elevated levels of GGT and ALP can indicate Cholestasis (issues with bile flow). A rise in GGT levels can also be due to alcohol and drug use. The use of GGT can help differentiate whether an individual's rise in ALP is due to an issue with the bones, or the liver.
Albumin - This is a protein which helps transport hormones, enzymes and vitamins around the body. It attracts water and retains fluids in the bloodstream. Low levels of Albumin can indicate liver problems such as liver disease, or an inflammatory disorder.
Bilirubin - Bilirubin is formed during the natural breakdown of your red blood cells. High levels of Bilirubin may suggest that the liver is not clearing bilirubin from the body effectively enough. This could be a sign of Gilbert’s syndrome, which is a benign condition many people don’t realise they have until they are tested. Bilirubin frequently rises due to disease when:
- Bilirubin is not cleared due to obstruction of biliary conducts as litiasis and pancreatitis.
- Red cells are destroyed and hemoglobin is transformed into bilirubin (hemolysis)
What can a liver function test tell you?
A liver function test can tell you whether you’re at risk, or suffering from, liver damage and other liver-related health issues.As well as identifying your risk of health issues, results from a liver function test can be used to make recommendations to lifestyle changes, like reducing your alcohol intake or changing your diet.
Symptoms associated with liver damage
Symptoms of liver damage do not appear early on and once symptoms arise liver damage or scarring (Cirrhosis) has already occurred. Symptoms include:
Loss of appetite
Fatigue and feeling weak
Loss of sex drive
Jaundice, which is the yellowing of the yes and skin
Causes of liver problems
Alcohol related liver disease caused by regularly consuming too much alcohol
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which causes too much fat to be stored in the liver. Those who are over-weight or obese are at risk
Hepatitis and inflammation of the liver caused by a viral infection. Hepatitis can also occur through the consumption of drugs, medications and alcohol
Haemochromatosis, an inherited condition caused by iron overload in the liver
Primary Biliary Cholangitis, which can cause blockages in bile ducts leading to a build-up of bile, damaging and scarring the liver
If you think you might have liver problems, it's easy to get tested with Melio. Our General Health Check will check your liver, and give you an overview of your personal health. Find out more about getting a General Health Check here, and book your test today.