Liver Function Tests

Liver Function Tests (LFTs) test for bilirubin as well as a number of liver enzymes which if raised, can indicate poor liver health.

Our Liver Check provides a comprehensive check of liver enzymes such as Gamma GT (GGT), Alanine Transferase (ALT) and Aspartate Transferase (AST) which can be raised if the liver is inflamed or the biliary system is obstructed.  GGT can be raised through bile duct obstruction or, more commonly, through excessive alcohol consumption. ALT is thought to be specific to liver damage whereas AST can also indicate muscle or heart damage.

Our Liver Check also includes tests for Kidney Function, Diabetes, Gout and Cholesterol, giving you a comprehensive picture of your organ and metabolic function.

Who is this blood test for

As well as for people who wish to monitor an already diagnosed liver problem, the Liver Check (Liver function Test) is for individuals who wish to know how their liver is coping with their liestyle, particularly if they consume excessive calories, units of alcohol or drugs. Early detection of liver damage means that preventative action can be taken before damage becomes irreversable.

The early stages of liver disease often have no specific symptoms with some signs easily confused with other problems.

Early symptoms can include:

  • fatigue and lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • unexplained weight loss
  • unusual coloured urine and stools
  • general feeling of being unwell

What's included

Sodium is both an electrolyte and mineral. It helps regulate the water (inside and outside the body's cells) and electrolyte balance of the body. Sodium is also important in how nerves and muscles work. Sodium in the blood is regulated by the kidneys. 

Too much sodium in the blood is often due to dehydration but can be a marker of the kidneys not working properly. 

Too little sodium is often caused by fluid retention (oedema) or too much sodium lost through vomiting and diarrhoea or excessive sweating. 

Potassium is essential in regulating how the heart beats. It also helps move nutrients into cells and waste products out of cells and influences how nerves and muscles communicate. 

Raised potassium can be cused by over-supplementation but is also a sign of kidney failure as the kidneys fail to remove excess potassium from the blood.

Low potassium can be caused by dehydration, excessive sweating, diarrhoea and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

Chloride, like sodium, helps to maintain the balance of fluid in the body.

Raised levels can caused by eating too much salt, dehydration, diarrhoea, certain medications and also kidney disease. 

Low levels can be caused by a condition that causes the ph of the blood to be raised, chronic vomiting and over-hydration.

Urea is waste product produced as the body digests protein and is carried by the blood to the kidneys, which filter the urea out of the blood and into the urine.The urea test shows how well the kidneys are working.

A high amount of urea in the blood may indictate dehydration or that the kidneys are not working properly or simply that you consume a high protein diet. 

Low amounts of urea in the blood may indicate a low protein diet, over-hydration, malnutrition or liver failure. 

Creatinine is a chemical waste molecule that is generated from muscle metabolism. Measurement of this is an indicator of the level of other waste products. Creatinine is an accurate marker of kidney function.

Elevated creatinine can be caused by high intake of animal protein, taking creatine supplements and vigorous exercise but could also indicate that the kidneys are not working properly.

Low creatinine can be caused by a low protein diet, reduced muscle mass or merely efficient kidney function. 

Bilirubin is a product of haemoglobin breakdown. It is removed from the body via the liver, stored and concentrated in the gall bladder and excreted into the bowel. Raised bilirubin can cause the skin and whites of eyes to become yellow (jaundice) as the liver is unable to remove sufficient bilirubin from the blood. This can indicate liver damage.

Bilirubin can also be raised due to a blocked bile duct as well as Gilbert's syndrome.

Alkaline Phosphotase (ALP) is an enzyme located mainly in the liver and bones. High levels can indicate bone or liver disease. Raised ALP is looked at in conjunction with other liver function tests to determine whether the problem lies in the liver or the bones.

Pregnancy can also cause raised ALP and it is often elevated in growing teenagers.

Aspartate Transferase (AST) is an enzyme created mainly by the cells of the liver and the heart. Any injury to the heart or liver, and other bodily tissues will cause AST to be released into the bloodstream. Levels can be raised following a heart attack, or from liver damage caused by alcohol, drugs or viruses (hepatitis).

AST can be raised after vigorous exercise.

Alanine Transferase (ALT) is an enzyme which is produced by the liver and can indicate liver damage caused by alcohol, drugs or viruses (hepatitis). Small amounts of ALT are normal, but raised levels may mean that your liver is inflamed.

Raised levels can also be caused by recent vigorous exercise.

CK (Creatinine Kinase) is a muscle enzyme which measures muscle cell damage and death. CK levels tend to be higher in people with greater muscle mass.

CK levels are measured to assess muscle damage, CK levels can rise rapidly after muscle trauma, but will subside as the damage repairs. Levels which continue to rise indicate that muscle damage is continuing. If you have been to the gym the day before your blood test you may well have raised levels of CK.

Gamma GT is a liver enzyme which is raised in liver and bile duct diseases. It is used in conjunction with the ALP to distinguish between bone or liver disease. Gamma GT is used to diagnose alcohol abuse as it is raised in 75% of long term drinkers.

Total Protein represents the sum of albumin and globulin. It is more important to know which protein fraction is high or low than what the measure of total protein is.

Albumin is made mainly in the liver and helps keep the blood from leaking out of blood vessels. It also helps carry some medicines and other substances through the blood and is important for tissue growth and healing.

Low albumin levels can indicate liver disease and can also be a marker for chronic ill-health, malnutrition and chronic inflammation. It can also occur in kidney conditions such as nehrotic syndrom and diabetes.

Raised levels are usually caused by dehydration. 

Globulin consists of different proteins and is made by the liver and the immune system. Certain globulins bind with haemoglobin while others transport metals, such as iron, in the blood and help fight infection.

Calcium is the most common mineral in the body and one of the most important. The body needs it to build and repair bones and teeth, help nerves work, make muscles squeeze together, help blood clot, and help the heart to work. Vitamin D is essential to absorb calcium.

The majority of calcium in the body is stored in bone, the rest is found in the blood. If the calcium result is abnormal, a Corrected Calcium calculation is carried out to provide further information.

Around half of the total calcium in your blood is bound by albumin. This estimates your calcium meausrement if albumin levels were a specified normal value. 

Phosphate, also called phosphorus, is an important source of energy. It is a chemical which the body needs to get energy from the food. It is an vital component of bones and high levels are found in skeletal muscle.

Uric acid is a waste product of protein digestion. High levels can lead to excess uric acid being deposited as crystals in the tissues of the body. When this occurs in joints it causes the painful condition known as gout. 

Uric acid levels are best tested 6 weeks after symptoms appear as they may not be raised at the beginning of an attack. 

 

The random blood glucose test can be taken at any time of day. It measures the level of sugar in your blood and is an indicator of how well your body is metabolising sugars to store in your cells as glycogen.

As the test is random, the reference ranges are higher than that of a fasting sample as the test could have been performed shortly after eating.

Raised levels could indicate pre-diabetes or diabetes.

The Iron test meausres how much iron is in your blood with the aim of identifying iron deficiency anaemia or iron overload syndrome (haemochromatosis)

The symptoms of too much or too little iron can be similar: fatigue, muscle weakness, moodiness and problems concentrating.

A raised result can mean that you have iron overload syndrome, an inherited condition where your body stores too much iron, or that you are over-supplementing or that you have a liver condition.

A low result can mean that you are anaemic or are suffering from gastro-intestinal blood loss (or other blood loss). Anaemia is also very common in pregnant women.

Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC) is a measure of the amount of iron that can be carried through the blood. 

A raised TIBC result usually indicates iron deficiency whereas a low TIBC can occur with iron overload syndrome (haemochromatosis).

Transferrin is made in the liver and is the major protein in the blood which binds to iron and transports it through the body.

Low levels of transfrerrin indicate iron deficiency while high levels indicate iron overload.

Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) that circulate in the blood. After you eat, the body converts any excess calories into triglycerides which are then transported to cells to be stored as fat. Your body releases triglycerides to be used for energy. 

Raised triglycerides are thought to be a risk factor for peripheral vascular disease (affecting the blood vessels which supply your arms and legs as well as organs below the stomach) as well a microvascualr disease, affecting the tiny blood vessels around the heart. 

Cholesterol is an essential body fat (lipid). It is necessary for building cell membranes and for making several essential hormones. Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver and also comes from the food we eat. Excessive cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease - doctors like to see levels below 5 mmol/L.

However, cholesterol is made up of both good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol so it is important to investigate a raised total cholesterol to see the cause. High levels of HDL cholesterol can cause a raised result but actually be protective against heart disease.

We will send you your Liver Function Tests finger-prick blood sample collection kit which contains everything you need to take your blood sample in the comfort of your own home. If you are unsure about completing a finger-prick blood sample collection you will have the opportunity to select a clinic-based venous blood sample collection or choose to go our London laboratory during the checkout process.

Your Liver Function Tests includes 1st class postage and packaging for you to send your blood sample directly to our laboratory for analysis. If you live in an area where you cannot rely on the post or you simply want to ensure that your sample arrives at the laboratory the following day, you may wish to send your blood sample guaranteed next day delivery for extra reassurance.

Your blood sample will be analysed at one of our chosen laboratories. You can be assured of fast, accurate results from one of our accredited independent providers of clinical diagnostic tests.
Once you have placed your order you will receive login details to mymedichecks.com where you can manage your account, track your orders and view your Liver Function Tests results in your own personal dashboard.
Stay motivated by filling in your online health and lifestyle questionnaire and seeing how improvements in your lifestyle can influence your results. Your medical and family history gives us vital information when interpreting your results.
Our medical team will comment on out-of-range blood results and give you follow-up advice where necessary. If you need it, a PDF copy of your Liver Function Tests results can be downloaded for your doctor. Want a hard-copy report? You will be given the opportunity to order one during the checkout process.