Introduction to ACE level test
ACE is a blood pressure monitoring enzyme. When blood pressure is low for whatever reason, ACE once activated, will get a whole system, called Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone-System, into action.
Its full meaning is an angiotensin-converting enzyme. It is vital in keeping the body in its normal blood and water functions. That is, ACE is useful in seeing to it that blood pressure does not get too low or too high.
The ACE level can be checked by getting a small sample of your blood for a laboratory test.
Why an ACE level test is performed?
Your doctor might decide to conduct an ACE test on you based on two grounds:
- To confirm that you have a diseased condition called Sarcoidosis
- To monitor the treatment of the same condition.
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that affects eyes, spleen, lungs, skin, heart, liver and lymph nodes. In Sarcoidosis, a group of inflammatory cells referred to as granuloma is formed in the body. It causes ACE concentration in the blood to rise above normal.
Sarcoidosis can be identified by any of the following symptoms; mysterious weight loss, fatigue, fever, appetite loss, nocturnal sweats, bulging lymph nodes, joint pains, blood loss through the nose, and a dry mouth.
Gaucher’s disease, Psoriasis¸ lymphoma, amyloidosis, histoplasmosis, cirrhosis, diabetes¸ leprosy, HIV, tuberculosis, hyperthyroidism etc. can raise ACE levels in the blood. Hence, this test can be used to monitor the progress of their treatment.
Other medical conditions that lower blood ACE level is hypothyroidism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, cystic fibrosis etc.
An ACE level test is not diagnostic in itself. But it can be co-used to with other diagnostic and confirmatory tests.
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Why you should prepare for an ACE level test
You will not require any abstinence from food, medication or any special lifestyle prior to the test. But if you are already on a therapy for thinning of the blood, it will be wise to inform your doctor before the test. If you are on a blood-thinning therapy, you are at a risk of losing blood at the slightest needle puncture. If your doctor is aware of your medication, care will be taken in applying enough pressure on the site where you will be punctured with a needle in order to take your blood sample.
What will happen during an ACE level test?
The blood sample will likely be taken from your arm. You will be required to sit down comfortably on a chair. Your arm will then be tied with a tourniquet so as to reveal your veins. A tourniquet is a band used to tighten the upper part of the arm when a medical doctor wants to get some blood sample from a vein in your arm or when your blood pressure is to be taken.
When the tourniquet has been tied to your arm, you will be asked to expose the inner part of your arm and close your hand. The part with the most revealing vein will be disinfected and wiped clean. A syringe needle will then be carefully inserted into the vein and blood will be drawn out. You will only feel a slight pain when the needle pricks your skin upon its insertion. That place will be wiped with cotton wool and pressure will be applied there to stop blood flow. That is all from you. The collected blood will be tested in the laboratory while you wait for the result. Your result will be given and explain to you.
Are there risks associated with an ACE level test?
Not really, as they will disappear in a couple of days. You might have a sore skin at the puncture site and then slight pains because of the needle puncture. But should you have pains that refuse to go after many days, please see your doctor.
It is possible for complications to arise from the procedures of getting a blood sample from you. It is albeit rare. Such complications are;
- Hematoma: Blood buildup under the skin
- Hemorrhage: excessive blood loss
- Skin infection: this is usually at the site where the needle punctures your skin.
What your ACE level test results mean
The result you obtain from an ACE level test varies from one laboratory to another. For adults, the normal range is 8-53 microlitres. Children could have a range of values higher than those in adults.
Abnormal ACE concentration in your blood may signify that you have sarcoidosis, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, cirrhosis or any of the conditions once listed in this article. To confirm that you actually have sarcoidosis, your doctor must perform a calcium level test, a complete blood count test and a liver test on you.
If the confirmatory test for sarcoidosis is positive, your doctor will begin treatment on you. If the treatment is effective, your ACE level will be restored. But if after you have begun treatment on Sarcoidosis and your ACE level still does not fall but keeps increasing, it is an indicator that you are not responding to that treatment or the condition is worsening. Your doctor will have to switch the treatment regimen to one which is effective.
ACE-inhibiting captopril and Vasotec can reduce ACE blood levels.
You can have high ACE levels and not have sarcoidosis. You could as well have a normal concentration of ACE and still have sarcoidosis. That is why confirmatory tests are very important in allaying all doubts.