What are the causes of increasing SGOT and SGPT levels ?

What are the causes of increasing SGOT and SGPT levels ?

SGOT and SGPT are two important tests used in the medical field to assess the functioning of the liver. SGOT and SGPT stand for Serum Glutamic Oxaloacetic Transaminase and Serum Glutamic Pyruvic Transaminase, respectively. They are also known as AST (Aspartate Transaminase) and ALT (Alanine Transaminase). These tests measure the levels of two enzymes that are found in the body; SGOT is present in the heart, skeletal muscles, and kidneys, while SGPT is found in the liver. 

Clinical Significance of SGOT and SGPT Tests

The liver is an essential organ of the human body, playing a pivotal part in the metabolic process. Its primary function is to detoxify the blood by processing and filtering out harmful waste products. This is achieved through the production and secretion of several types of enzymes, which ensure that this process runs smoothly and efficiently.

SGPT and SGOT are two of the most common types of liver enzymes. When the liver is damaged or inflamed, the levels of both SGOT and SGPT enzymes in the blood increase, disrupting the normal balance. These markers can help diagnose a variety of liver diseases, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and other conditions that cause the liver to malfunction. It is also used to monitor the effectiveness of certain medications or treatments for liver diseases. 

Range and Causes of Elevated SGOT and SGPT Levels

The typical range of SGPT and SGOT in the serum of a patient should normally remain between 7-56 units/liter and 8-45 units/liter, respectively. Nevertheless, any level beyond 56 units/liter for SGPT and 50 units/liter for men or 45 units/liter for women for SGOT should be deemed as a cause for serious concern, suggesting the presence of a chronic underlying condition. 

Elevated SGPT and SGOT levels are often indicative of liver damage due to conditions such as-

 Acute viral hepatitis

 Alcoholic liver disease

 Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease


 Liver cancer

Other clinical conditions such as kidney disease, celiac disease (Autoimmune disorder), myocardial infarction (heart attack), diabetes, obesity, infectious mononucleosis (Glandular fever caused by Epstein-Barr virus), cholecystitis (Gallbladder inflammation), dermatomyositis (Inflammation of skin and muscles), pancreatitis, etc. can also lead to SGOT/SGPT imbalance. 

In addition, other factors such as alcohol abuse, certain medications, strenuous exercise, or muscle damage could also be the cause of high levels. 

Therefore, it is essential to consult with a healthcare provider in order to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment. Additionally, regular monitoring of liver enzymes can help to detect liver disease early and prevent long-term damage.

Symptoms of High SGOT & SGPT Levels

In most cases, elevated SGOT and SGPT levels may not cause any noticeable symptoms; however, some people may experience mild symptoms such as –

Constant fatigue and tiredness

Nausea and Vomiting

Abdominal discomfort

Bruising quickly

In more severe cases, liver disease can cause symptoms such as –



Swelling in the leg and abdomen

Dark colored urine

Pale stools

Experiencing any symptoms is an indication that you should seek medical help immediately. If tests reveal elevated levels of SGOT and SGPT, your physician will decide to proceed with further testing or start the necessary treatment.

How are the SGPT & SGOT Blood tests performed?

SGPT & SGOT Blood test is a painless procedure that is performed by obtaining a sample of blood from a vein in the arm. The sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results of the analysis are expressed as a ratio of SGOT to SGPT, which is called the AST/ALT ratio. The normal ratio is between 0.8 and 1.2. A ratio higher than 1.2 suggests that the liver is inflamed or damaged, while a lower ratio could indicate an infection or a problem with the heart or kidneys. In some cases, doctors may use the results of the SGOT and SGPT tests along with other tests to diagnose specific conditions. For example, if the levels of both enzymes are high, the doctor may order additional tests to check for hepatitis. If the results of the additional tests are positive, then the patient may be diagnosed with hepatitis

It does not require any special preparation and typically takes only five minutes to complete. Your doctor may recommend this test to analyze your liver function and rule out any possible complications.

SGOT and SGPT tests are generally safe, but they can occasionally cause side effects. These may include slight discomfort or bruising at the site of the injection or blood draw. Patients may also experience dizziness, fatigue, or nausea after having the test. In rare cases, the patient may experience excessive bleeding at the puncture site, hematoma or clotted blood underneath the skin, or infection.

Maintaining Healthy SGOT and SGPT Levels

There are a few lifestyle habits that can keep your liver and body in a healthier state.

Switch to Healthy Eating Habits

Increase Vitamin D intake in your diet: Vitamin D helps in preventing any damage happening to the liver and decreases the SGPT levels. Oranges, mushrooms, soy milk, apples, fortified cereals, tofu, eggs, dairy products, oysters, cod liver oil, and green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin D.

Eat a nutritious diet: Organic and plant-based diets are the best for your liver function. Avoid excessive salt and sodium-rich foods.

Eat more vegetables and fruits: Fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants, such as papaya, kiwi, pomegranate, carrot, spinach, bell pepper, etc., are good for the liver.

Avoid fried and junk foods: Try to avoid eating deep-fried foods and junk food such as pizza, burgers, etc. Also, try to stay from chicken, meat, pork, cheese, carbonated drinks, bacon, and butter.

Limit alcohol and quit smoking: Alcohol is the most dangerous thing for the liver. Consuming excessive alcohol can produce toxins and damage the liver raising the SGOT and SGPT levels in your blood. Also, quit smoking as it can also cause damage.

Don’t self-medicate

Absorbing medicines is too stressful on the liver; therefore, having medications that are not prescribed by a qualified doctor can do more harm to the liver.

Exercise Regularly

Doing regular exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy liver. It decreases the stress on the liver and also increases energy levels. Exercise helps in preventing obesity, which is one of the risk factors for liver diseases.

Regular health check-ups

Go for regular health check-ups, as liver dysfunctions do not always show symptoms. Don’t wait for too long for symptoms to occur. Routine preventive screening is one way to know if the liver is functioning correctly. High SGPT or SGOT is usually an indication of liver cell injury.

On a final note, implementing these healthy lifestyle modifications with a healthy diet is the best resolution to lower SGPT and SGOT levels.

Dr. KK Aggarwal

Recipient of Padma Shri, Vishwa Hindi Samman, National Science Communication Award and Dr B C Roy National Award, Dr Aggarwal is a physician, cardiologist, spiritual writer and motivational speaker. He was the Past President of the Indian Medical Association and President of Heart Care Foundation of India. He was also the Editor in Chief of the IJCP Group, Medtalks and eMediNexus

 More FAQs by Dr. KK Aggarwal

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