If your blood test showed high (elevated) levels of liver enzymes, you could have a medical condition. Elevated liver enzymes may also be temporary. Your provider can help you understand your results and what to do next.
If you have high levels of liver enzymes in your blood, you have elevated liver enzymes. High liver enzyme levels may be temporary, or they may be a sign of a medical condition like hepatitis or liver disease. Certain medications can also cause elevated liver enzymes.
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Liver enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions in your body. These chemical reactions include producing bile and substances that help your blood clot, breaking down food and toxins, and fighting infection. Common liver enzymes include:
If your liver is injured, it releases enzymes into your bloodstream (most commonly ALT or AST).
Your healthcare provider may check your liver enzyme levels with a liver function test (LFT) or liver panel. A liver function test is a type of blood test. Your provider may order an LFT during a regular checkup if you’re at risk for liver injury or disease or if you have symptoms of liver damage.
Liver diseases, medical conditions, medications and infections can cause elevated liver enzymes.
Common causes for elevated liver enzymes include:
Other causes of elevated liver enzymes include:
Factors that put you at risk for elevated liver enzymes include:
Most people with elevated liver enzymes don’t have symptoms. If liver damage is the cause of elevated liver enzymes, you may have symptoms such as:
About one-third of people with elevated liver enzymes will have normal liver enzyme levels after two to four weeks. If your liver enzymes stay high, your provider may order more blood tests, or imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scan or MRI. They may also refer you to a liver specialist (hepatologist). Treatment will depend on what’s causing the elevated liver enzymes.
Some medical conditions that raise liver enzymes can’t be prevented. But there are steps you can take to keep your liver healthy:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Elevated liver enzymes have a variety of causes, including liver disease and medication. Elevated liver enzymes may also be temporary. If your blood test shows high levels of liver enzymes, talk with your provider. They’ll work to figure out the cause.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/28/2021.
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