Why do human values ​​deteriorate

Elevated liver values ​​- what does it mean?

The liver

The liver is in the right upper abdomen, just below the diaphragm. With a weight of around 1.5 kg, it is one of the largest internal organs. The liver has many vital functions. For example, it stores food components such as fats or sugar. It breaks down pollutants such as alcohol or medication. And it forms hormones and substances for blood clotting.

What are "liver values"?

All cells need certain proteins for their own metabolism. The following are characteristic of the liver cells:

  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
  • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
  • Gamma Glutamyl Transferase (Gamma GT)
  • alkaline phosphatase (AP)

There are also values ​​that show whether an organ is working properly. In the case of the liver, these are:

  • Bilirubin: breakdown product of red blood cells
  • Albumin: blood protein produced by the liver
  • Cholinesterase (ChE): protein produced by the liver
  • Quick value (TPZ): value of blood coagulation

All of these values ​​together are known as liver values. They can be measured in the blood.

What are "elevated liver values"?

If liver cells are damaged, the liver values ​​change. Some go up: AST, ALT, Gamma-GT, AP, bilirubin. Others decrease: Albumin, ChE, TPZ. Changes in liver values ​​are common. The change in just one value is not very meaningful. If several values ​​are changed, this can indicate liver damage. Common causes are:

  • Alcohol, drugs and other pollutants
  • Pathogens such as viruses or bacteria
  • permanent high-fat diet
  • Biliary tract and gallstone disease

Changes in liver values ​​can also occur in other diseases that are not directly related to the liver.

Signs of liver damage

In the case of liver damage, physical signs are usually very general, such as fatigue, tiredness or a feeling of pressure in the right upper abdomen. Many liver diseases are therefore not noticeable for a long time. Indicative signs such as yellowing of the eyes and skin, itching, vomiting or pain often appear very late.

Fatty liver and fatty liver inflammation

If the liver has to store more fat than it can release, fatty liver develops. It is not painful and usually goes unnoticed for many years. About 25 out of 100 people are affected. The most common causes are alcohol, overeating and obesity (adiposity), sedentary lifestyle, diabetes (diabetes mellitus) and medication. Out of 100 people with fatty liver, 5 to 20 will develop fatty liver inflammation.
If the cause of the liver damage disappears, the liver can recover from both changes. The following can help: do not drink alcohol, lose weight, move around, strive for normal blood sugar levels. There is currently no treatment with medication.

Viral infections of the liver

Liver inflammation can be triggered by various hepatitis viruses (A to E). The viruses are transmitted through food, feces, or body fluids such as blood. The inflammation usually heals on its own. However, sometimes it persists. Then medication can help with hepatitis B and C. There are preventive vaccinations against some hepatitis viruses.

Cirrhosis of the liver

Liver cirrhosis (shrunken liver) is the end stage of many permanent diseases of the liver: liver cells die and connective tissue takes their place. The liver can no longer do its job. This can lead to metabolic, hormonal or blood clotting disorders. Pollutants are no longer sufficiently broken down. In contrast to other liver diseases, cirrhosis of the liver usually cannot regress. A healthy lifestyle can stop the disease from progressing. About half of all liver cirrhosis is caused by alcohol, a quarter by permanent viral infections of the liver. In about 2 out of 100 cases, cirrhosis of the liver results in liver cancer.

What you can do yourself

  • A healthy lifestyle can prevent liver damage and help with liver disease. Eat a balanced diet that is not too high in fat.

  • Exercise regularly. Experts recommend being physically active about 3 hours a week.

  • Slowly decrease your weight if you are overweight. But avoid starvation diets or zero diets, these put a lot of strain on the liver.

  • The following applies to all permanent diseases of the liver: alcohol worsens the course considerably. You should therefore refrain from alcohol. If this is difficult for you, get professional help.

  • There are effective vaccinations against hepatitis A and hepatitis B viruses. Discuss with your doctor whether you should be vaccinated.

June 2019, published by the German Medical Association and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians