High GGT and cardiovascular risk

I have consistently had elevated GGT for the past 10 years. ALT and ALP sometimes rise but not often. Mostly GGT. And it fluctuates - it is now 160 but I had it at 394 last year. Rest of blood tests are fine. Ultrasound, Fibroscan, liver biopsy show normal liver. Gallbladder and ducts fine. Alcohol consumption is minimal, say 0-5 units a week.

I've tried to search online about this and came across articles about high GGT being a predictor of cardiovascular risk (strokes and heart attacks).

Has anyone with high GGT been discussing this risk with their hepatologist and if so, what was the suggested advice please?

23 Replies

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  • hi, I'm in a similar boat-ggt 250 but recently diagnosed with fatty liver ultrasound positive and fibrocan 7.6-I suspect my GP will put me on statins as my cholesterol is 6.4-as the guidelines on statins have changed-am 58-you don't mention age/weight or choleseterol-all these will be factors-

  • Hi, thank you for responding. I'm 48 female. Healthy BMI and weight for my height. Cholesterol is 4.38. My cardio tests, including CT scan with contrast and heart MRI showed clean arteries late last year. I know that at this point the picture isn't bad - however, if high GGT is a sign of things to come (as the articles I read seem to suggest), then I'd like to do everything I can to prevent it. Diet at the moment is not great (i.e. I seem to be eating too many of carbs and saturated fats and not enough veg) so I know that is something I need to address now. I exercise in the gym twice a week.

    And despite all that, I still have a high GGT. Argh!

    I was thinking of taking statins preventatively too. I doubt my cardiologist and my hepatologist would be happy to prescribe them to me at this point, though, even if with the guidelines changed.

    Please let me know if after taking statins for a month or so, your GGT has improved - I'm keen to see if there is a connection. Many thanks.

  • you don't seem to be in too bad shape-GPs don't seem to get too excited about GGt levels at this level-interested to know why a liver biopsy was ordered? You might have undiagnosed fatty liver or early stages...you may want to try the 5:2 diet-I tried this for 3 months last year and it reversed all my symptoms-it did mean abstinence from alcohol though-which is what has caused my problems over the years. GGT I've read are difficult to get down...I beleive there is a connection between GGT and lipids which is why I will probably have to go statins. Yes I will feedback- good luck

  • Liver biopsy was ordered because not one of the tests done at that point explained the high GGT. Plus I had positive ANA (auto nuclear antibody) and I was seeing a hepatologist privately, so he said the only way to eliminate a lot of things, including autoimmune hepatitis etc, is to have a biopsy. The biopsy showed barely above upper limit for fatty liver which he said I can reduce with diet. There was nothing unusual present at that time.

    I have since been diagnosed with lupus but the GGT remained I a state of flux but above the upper limit of the normal range. Lupus medication made no difference to the GGT nor the disease activity.

    Like you, I'm completely mystified about this but given the seriousness of the risk (apparently a consistently raised GGT gives an increase of 64% risk of cardiovascular events within 20 years) I'm starting to look more into the link.

    Good luck to you too and thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Hmm-interesting-I think I've learned more from you than you from me...! I'll have to work harder on the diet myself-however unlike you-all my woes are self inflicted (in vino veritas)-all things considered I'm probably luck just to have fatty liver at this stage. One thing though- wouldn't worry about those stats-a lot of things can happen in 20 years including all kinds of research etc. I would try the 5:2 diet as this has a big impact on visceral fat-keep posting because your experience is invaluable to others

  • HI Briccolone - can you forward that 5:2 diet to me or let me know a link where I can get it from.

    Hope you are well? I have posted an update of my current situation and would be grateful for any advice.

    Thanks

  • hi Julia,

    yes the 5:2 diet -very fashionable but worked well for me-basically you do what is called intermittent fasting which consists of 2 days a week easting no more than 500 calories for women and 600 for men. The rest of the week you neat as normal. I used it to lose weight-I lost 9 kgs in 6 weeks plus no alcohol-made a big difference to my visceral fat levels and cholesterol plus reversed fatty liver symptoms. GGT levels came down from 212 to 167-still high but manageable. The diet also means you dont drink on the 2 days which is good long term, I had 3-6 months without alcohol. The diet book is by Dr micheal mosely available very cheaply on amazon-just do a google search. I found the diet helped with stopping drinking for a good while

  • hi guys, I'm in a different boat. my ggt is @ 4450. alcohol related of course. other symptoms are not bad but I have a fatty liver. liver function is @ 90%. I have stopped drinking and I'm on a total diet eating veggies, fruits and fish only for the past month since my diagnosis. do you think I have any chance of getting it to normal?

  • Apparently GGT is highly sensitive to alcohol, so by stopping it you'll see a decline at some point once your liver is recovering. I've no idea if that means it will be able to get back to normal - you'll need to ask a hepatologist because these guys see different patients at different levels of liver disease and follow them up through treatment, so I assume they'll be able to have some sort of statistic about your likelihood of returning to normal.

    A month of diet is not enough to cleanse the liver properly - it will take you several months to a year at least before you notice a steady improvement in your GGT.

    I drink a lot of dandelion and burdock tea to help with the liver and gallbladder inflammation but it isn't to everyone's taste. Drink water (not carbonated because it takes calcium out) instead to flush toxins out.

    Stay strong, being on the diet is not easy.

  • Hi my GGT was 350 in November 2013, I have cut down drastically on my alcohol intake ie no more drinking of cans in the house and many days with no alcohol ie 5 days and then a drink trouble is thought when I do have a drink its usually what the GPs class as binge drinking ie 5-6 pints (never the top shelf though!). I know what I have to do and I need to see the GP at the end of March to have another blood test (the reason for this was that I promised to cut down) which I have not entirely done. I have made big steps in my opinion so I don't want to go to have a blood test until the end of April which will give me an extra four weeks or so (am certainly not drinking alcohol from today 24.03) until I have the blood tests and some results. My diet is not fantastic I would not say that I am overweight however the GP's say I am very slightly but in the past I have eaten late at night due to work and very often meals that you put straight in the oven - however again with life changes and since joining this forum i have seen what a difference eating a healthier diet can bring - so now I eat more vegetables and fruit than ever.

    Are you correct in that your GGT was 4450 do you not mean 450????.

    I do worry that I haven't done to much long term damage to my liver and hope that I will not have anything un towards happen ie cancer etc so if you get hold of the 5:2 diet that briccolone has suggested can you forward it on - alternately I will post Briccolone and pass it on to you.

  • The 5:2 diet is eat normally for 5 days and fast for 2. I'll let Briccolone to resond separately, he might have more tips.

    You said that you've lapsed with your self imposed regime of not drinking and eating sensibly but like you also said, this is a step in the right direction. Nothing motivates us more than fear for our lives, so I'm sure you'll get there in the end. The point is to continue even after the GGT has resolved and that is difficult to keep to, I know from experience.

  • absolutely

  • I did mean my GGT was @4450 when I checked a month ago. the lab technician probably fainted seeing the figure. I know I almost did. but no surprise there when you've been drinking hard for the past 10 or so years everyday. but I have changed my diet to things I have never considered worthy of eating, i.e. veggies and fruits. have not touched a single drink so far, I'm not even getting tempted. I plan to have another check in a month or so just to see what's going on. but I don't think i'll ever go back to the old life style.

  • good for you-a few other people have shared posts re v.high ggts which responded well over time to abstinence-no reason why your shouldn't...

  • I also hope mine does too Briccolone! Regards

  • give it a try Julia-I found it improved things all round including morale looks etc.

  • I am inspired by you because we all know it is not easy cutting down when at the end of the day we all liked the feeling it gave/gives up when we have had a drink. I think you are doing really well and I am certainly going to start weighing me to see if I can loose a stone which should bring my BP down. Keep in touch with me and I can tell you how I go at the end of April for my blood test results.

    Best Regards

  • it will ceratinly improve-give it a good go for 6 months and you may be surprised by the results-any symptoms?

  • Hi Briccolone

    In fairness I don't have any symptoms at all other than when I have binge drank, I get a dull ache in the left hand side just under my ribs (I have researched and think this could be the start of gall stones I can relate to some of the symptoms. Other than this due to being slightly overweight I have raised blood pressure (not on medication for this yet) but that may well change - I have my BP taken with the Ocupational Health Nurse at work and last week it was 129/89 but when I go the GPS it is always higher! In general terms I feel very well in myself (other than feeling I have let myself down when I have had to many pints when I have lapsed), I still go to the recovery partnership for support every two weeks or so.

    One question does my employers have any right to say that I have to see my GP for blood tests at the end of this month (I am being seen by our occupational health nurse because I wanted support in giving up alcohol (not because the GP said I needed to see them because my health was at the stage of being at serious risk) - as said before I want to go to the doctors at the end of April for blood tests (can my employers enforce that I go at the end of March)

    Hope this makes sense.

    Regards

  • Julia, whether your employer can request your regular testing etc depends on the employee handbook or employment policies in place. These are usually very general in their application and most do cover things such as testing for alcohol use, particularly in jobs where sobriety is critical, e.g. driving. Just check your employment docs, or ask HR to show you where in the docs it says that they have the right to request. No need to be confrontational about it, say that it is just as a matter of interest.

  • HI purple top We don't have any drugs and alcohol policy in place at this moment in time - but even if we did it would not affect me as I don't drink in the week (I am in a very responsible position at work). I will keep you informed when my manager says to me why didn't you go to the GP at the end of the month with my reply.

  • Thanks for your support

  • thanks a million purpletop. I know this is going to be for the long run. I know I can handle the diet cause I'm enjoying it so far. even months if not a year or 2 is fine, I think.

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