Introduction to the aldolase test
The body converts glucose obtained from the food we eat into energy. Glucose is a form of sugar. Different steps are involved in the process and one notable enzyme in one of the steps is aldolase. Aldolase is everywhere in the body but is much more abundant in two places – the skeletal muscles and the liver.
What this might imply is that when anything leads to the damage of either or both organs, aldolase levels will be very high in the blood.
Why order an aldolase test?
The aldolase test is carried out to assess the amount of aldolase in the blood. Very high levels of the enzyme might be an indicator of an underlying medical condition. The underlying condition will typically be because the liver or the skeletal muscles has been damaged. Cirrhosis is a disease of the liver that can raise aldolase levels in the blood.
Before now, an aldolase test is usually ordered to find out liver or skeletal muscle damage. But that pattern has changed. Today, it has been extended to assess certain parameters in the blood. These parameters are:
The aldolase test is not a routine test that can be done at any time. It will likely be ordered for when someone has muscular dystrophy, polymyositis, or dermatomyositis.
How is the aldolase test administered?
The aldolase test is definitely a blood test. Hence, the blood sample will have to be collected from the vein in either the left or right hand by a trained technician. The blood will be collected in a tube and taken to the laboratory for analysis. The result of the test will subsequently be relayed by the technician to the doctor that instructed the test for further review.
What are the risks of the aldolase test?
Risks that come with an aldolase test are minimal. Pain is one of the typical risks that come with it. The pain could be mild or throbbing and it will be at the site where the needle was inserted into the vein in the arm.
Other potential risks are:
- hematoma – blood accumulation underneath the skin
- multiple punctures of the skin due to difficulty in getting a blood sample
- excessive blood loss at the puncture site
- fainting from excess blood loss
- infection at the puncture site
Preparing for an aldolase test
To prepare for an aldolase test, you will have to observe a fast where you neither eat nor drink anything. This will be 6 hours just before the test time. You might also have to observe a medication fast – abstain from taking any medication that might interfere with the result. Your doctor will definitely find out whether you are on any prescription or over-the-counter medication.
If you have been observing any exercise program, you will have to discontinue it for a while because exercise normally raises aldolase levels in the blood. Otherwise, going ahead with an aldolase test without stopping the exercise will produce a false result.
Understanding the results of the aldolase test
Slight differences exist in the test result for aldolase in men and women. It can also vary from one laboratory to another. But the adopted range for a normal aldolase result is 1.0 – 7.5 units per liter.
Abnormal aldolase levels can be caused by any of the following ill health:
- muscular dystrophy
- viral hepatitis
- liver cancer
- pancreatic cancer
- prostate cancer
- muscle damage
- heart attack
Aldolase can also test for hyperaldolasemia but it is usually not straightforward. Hyperaldolasemia is a condition that causes diminished muscle mass. Initial muscle destruction will cause a rapid increase in aldolase level. But with time, it will gradually rapidly. This can be attributed to the loss of muscle mass.
Low aldolase levels can be found in people with:
- muscle-wasting diseases
- late stage muscular dystrophy
- fructose intolerance
If you have been engaging in any strenuous activity lately and you have to go for an aldolase test, ensure you let your doctor know about it because strenuous activities can also raise aldolase level.