An ACE levels test is performed to determine the level of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) in an individual’s blood.
ACE is an enzyme that converts angiotensin I to angiotensin II, a naturally occurring process that your body undergoes to regulate blood pressure. Angiotensin I by itself is inactive, but when converted to angiotensin II, it causes blood vessels to narrow, which increases blood pressure throughout the body.
There is no set number for a healthy ACE level because it can vary by age and the testing method used by different laboratories. As a rule of thumb, adults over the age of 20 have ACE levels below 40 micrograms/L. People under the age of 20 generally have higher ACE levels.
An ACE levels test is simple: all you have to do is endure the prick of a needle.
The primary reason doctors use an ACE levels test is to identify and monitor sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis involves the development of small clumps of inflamed cells, most commonly affecting the eyes, lungs, lymph nodes, and skin. The condition often goes away on its own, but for some, it remains chronic.
An ACE test may also be used to detect or rule out Gaucher’s disease, a genetic disease in which fatty lipids accumulate in cells.
Other conditions that affect ACE levels include:
- alcoholic hepatitis
- chronic liver disease
- Hodgkin’s disease
- lung cancer
- multiple sclerosis
- steroid therapy
Risks involved with the ACE levels test are minimal and are generally the same as any other blood sample test. These include the possibility of:
- hematoma (blood pooling under the skin)
- slight bleeding at the puncture site
None of these risks have any long-lasting effects. Hematoma typically clears up in a few days.
An ACE levels test requires no preparation other than wearing clothing loose enough to roll up your sleeve.
Your doctor may instruct you to fast for up to 12 hours before the test. You may also be instructed to stop taking any kind of steroid therapy, as steroids increase the levels of ACE in the blood.
Do not stop taking any medication unless instructed by your doctor.
An ACE levels test is generally performed in a laboratory where the blood is analyzed for ACE levels. In this simple blood test, a trained professional will insert a needle into a vein in your arm. You may feel a slight prick when the needle is inserted, but after the initial entry, the test is painless.
Immediately after the test, you will be free to go about your business. If you have fainted or feel lightheaded, you will most likely be given a small snack and a beverage.
The test results are not immediate, so expect to discuss the results at a follow-up appointment with your doctor.