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Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Alpha 1 antitrypsin is a glycoprotein produced by the liver also known as serum trypsin inhibitor or protease inhibitor. It flows freely in the bloodstream. It is important as it protects tissues from damage caused by enzymes of inflammatory cells especially elastase that can freely break down elastin which is needed for the elasticilty of the lungs. These enzymes are produced by the organ itself in response to toxins and infection.

Why Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Test is done

The alpha 1 antitrypsin test is a laboratory test done to determine the level of alpha 1 antitrypsin in the blood. It is also helpful in detecting the presence of tissue damaging enzymes in the blood. Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency can result in severe disorders. The body’s inability to prevent tissue damage can lead to numerous complications that can turn fatal. In case of illness, alpha 1 antitrypsin testing indicates the degree of damage done to specific internal organs like the lungs or the liver. Unusually low levels of alpha 1 antitryspin may be linked with emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, liver cirrhosis and tumors. Depending on the test results, medication may be prescribed and the further course of action can be determined.

Preparation

No preparation as such is needed for a blood test. Most people are not comfortable with the thought of a needle being inserted into their body, or get scared seeing blood drawn out. Hence, preparing yourself mentally for the test is recommended. In addition, taking along a close relative or friend will prove beneficial as their presence may reduce the stress and put you at ease. Drinking plenty of water prior to the test will ensure that the blood flows out easily. Many blood tests are done after 12 hours of consumption of the last meal. Hence, you would need to confirm this factor with your doctor.

Procedure

 In order to check the presence of alpha antitrypsin, the alpha 1 antitrypsin blood test is performed wherein a small amount of blood is drawn from the vein in the crook of the elbow. Before attempting to draw out the blood, the area is cleansed thoroughly with liquid antiseptic. The technician will fasten an elastic band just above the site of the vein and ask you to clench your fist to make the vein more apparent. The blood is then drawn out into a special tube and sent for investigation. Gentle pressure applied over the puncture wound will facilitate clotting and be advantageous in preventing hematoma.
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