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Original research article
The value of aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase in cardiovascular disease risk assessment
  1. Stephen F Weng1,
  2. Joe Kai1,
  3. Indra Neil Guha2 and
  4. Nadeem Qureshi1
  1. 1Division of Primary Care, NIHR School of Primary Care Research, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  2. 2NIHR Biomedical Research Unit in Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Stephen F Weng; stephen.weng{at}


Objective Aspartate aminotransferase to alanine aminotransferase (AST/ALT) ratio, reflecting liver disease severity, has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the AST/ALT ratio improves established risk prediction tools in a primary care population.

Methods Data were analysed from a prospective cohort of 29 316 UK primary care patients, aged 25–84 years with no history of CVD at baseline. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to derive 10-year multivariate risk models for the first occurrence of CVD based on two established risk prediction tools (Framingham and QRISK2), with and without including the AST/ALT ratio. Overall, model performance was assessed by discriminatory accuracy (AUC c-statistic).

Results During a total follow-up of 120 462 person-years, 782 patients (59% men) experienced their first CVD event. Multivariate models showed that elevated AST/ALT ratios were significantly associated with CVD in men (Framingham: HR 1.37, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.79; QRISK2: HR 1.40, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.89) but not in women (Framingham: HR 1.06, 95% CI 0.78 to 1.43; QRISK2: HR 0.97, 95% CI 0.70 to 1.35). Including the AST/ALT ratio with all Framingham risk factors (AUC c-statistic: 0.72, 95% CI 0.71 to 0.74) or QRISK2 risk factors (AUC c-statistic: 0.73, 95% CI 0.71 to 0.74) resulted in no change in discrimination from the established risk prediction tools. Limiting analysis to those individuals with raised ALT showed that discrimination could improve by 5% and 4% with Framingham and QRISK2 risk factors, respectively.

Conclusions Elevated AST/ALT ratio is significantly associated with increased risk of developing CVD in men but not women. However, the ratio does not confer any additional benefits over established CVD risk prediction tools in the general population, but may have clinical utility in certain subgroups.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

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