written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•updated: 1/29/2009
Ever wondered what the "AST" acronym means on that blood test of yours? Why it's important to your health? Read on inside for more information.
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LDH, WBC, RBC - all these acronyms represent a vital part of a blood test for you to know about your health. White blood cells, red blood cells, and lactate dehydrogenase are all a vital part of your metabolism - readings on the blood test can be a first sign of a problem in a person's system. One of the big signs that something is wrong is AST, or aspartate aminotransferase.
Now, the ending of "ase" should tip you off that this particular molecule is an enzyme. Without getting overly technical, AST uses a multi-step mechanism to convert aspartate to glutamate. This is a vital step in the cellular mechanism that helps you daily in metabolizing nutrients and food, specifically in the lactic acid conversion stage.
Now that we know what the enzyme actually does, let's talk about why that little number next to the AST should matter to you. Because of the function of AST, you usually find it in low concentrations in the blood. To aid the repair of a tissue or organ, specifically like the liver or the heart, additional AST needs to be released into the blood to help the tissue along in repair.
The AST blood test specifically tests for liver damage, and occasionally for other types of damage. In reading the level of AST, doctors may be able to determine jaundice, cirrhosis, or hepatitis - which is essential for making a proper diagnosis or checking up on the treatment of an existing patient. Additionally, the jaundice can be determined to be caused by blood problems or by the liver itself.
Thankfully for you, this test is done as a routine part of your blood test. Just check up on the AST to make sure that it's not elevated, as it can be a sure sign that something is wrong in your liver. Again, we here at Brighthub are just a resource for you to check what these blood test acronyms mean - always consult your physician before starting treatment or continuing treatment. By staying up-to-date, you'll be able to ask your doctor the important questions that will lead to better healthcare.