What Is Aldolase?
Your body converts a form of sugar called glucose into energy. This process requires a number of different steps. One important component in the process is an enzyme known as aldolase. Aldolase can be found throughout the body; concentrations are highest in the muscles and liver.
High blood aldolase levels can occur if there is damage to your liver or muscles.
Why Is the Aldolase Test Ordered?
The aldolase test measures the amount of aldolase in your blood. Increased levels of this enzyme may indicate a serious health problem.
Elevated aldolase is usually a sign of muscle or liver damage. For example, muscle damage from a heart attack releases aldolase in large quantities. Liver damage, such as cirrhosis, raises aldolase levels as well.
In the past, the aldolase test was used to look for liver or muscle damage. However, today blood tests that are more specific can be used. Examples include:
- creatine kinase (CK)
- alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
- aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
The aldolase test is no longer used routinely. However, it may be ordered if you have muscular dystrophy. It can also be used to assess rare genetic disorders of the skeletal muscles. Such conditions include dermatomyositis and polymyositis.
How Is the Aldolase Test Administered?
The aldolase test is a blood test. You will be required to give a blood sample. The sample will usually be taken by a technician. A needle will be inserted into a vein of the arm or hand and the blood will be collected in a tube. The sample will be sent to a lab for analysis and the results will be reported to your doctor. Your doctor will tell you your results.
What Are the Risks of the Aldolase Test?
There may be some discomfort when the blood sample is drawn. You may feel pain at the test site during the blood draw. There may also be some brief, mild pain or throbbing at the site after the test.
In general, the risks of a blood test are minimal. Potential risks include:
- difficulty obtaining a sample, resulting in multiple needle sticks
- excessive bleeding at the needle site
- fainting as a result of blood loss
- accumulation of blood under the skin, known as a hematoma
- an infection where the skin is broken by the needle
Preparation for the Aldolase Test
Your doctor will tell you how to prepare for the test. Typically you will not be able to eat or drink anything for six hours before the test. Your doctor may also ask you to stop taking medications that may alter test results.
It is important to note that exercise can affect aldolase test results. Let your doctor know what about your regular exercise program. You might be told to limit exercise for several days before the test. Exercise can cause you have to erroneously high aldolase results.
Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you are taking. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
Understanding the Results
The specific ranges for an abnormal test may vary slightly by laboratory. and there are slight differences between normal levels for men and women. In general, normal results range from 1.0 to 7.5 units per liter.
Higher or abnormal levels may be due to health conditions, including:
- muscle damage
- viral hepatitis
- cancers of the liver, pancreas, or prostate
- muscular dystrophy
- heart attack (myocardial infarction)
Aldolase testing for conditions such as hyperaldolasemia is not straightforward. This condition causes muscle mass in the body to decrease. At first, muscle destruction causes higher aldolase levels. However, aldolase levels actually decline as the amount of muscle in the body decreases.
Let your doctor know if you have recently engaged in strenuous activity. This can cause you have to erroneously high results.