The CDT blood test is ordered when there is known evidence of heavy alcohol use in a person’s recent past. It is useful in evaluating medical symptoms and determining if there are risks in performing a surgery. To qualify for consideration for the CDT blood test, an individual would need to consume about 5 standard drinks for 14 consecutive days before the test was to be administered. This lets a medical provider know if the risks of proceeding with a specific procedure are too great and it should be put off until the body is able to recover.
Is the CDT Blood Test a Measurement for Alcoholism?
The CDT blood test will not let people know if they would be classified as an alcoholic. Although 5 drinks per day would be considered heavy drinking in terms of this test, an individual could drink 5 standard drinks from 12pm to 5pm every day for 14 consecutive days and qualify to have this test ordered by their medical provider. Alcoholism is a clinical diagnosis and it requires a full assessment that this blood test cannot provide on its own.
Many people are known to qualify for elevated CDT levels without having the addiction or abuse profiles in place that are necessary for the dependency that an alcoholism diagnosis requires.
What Do My CDT Blood Test Results Mean?
In basic terms, a positive CDT blood test indicates that a patient is drinking more alcohol than they should be. CDT appears when the alcohol is present in a large enough quantity that it is interfering with the regular chemistry of their liver cells. It does not mean that the liver has been damaged either. It simply indicates that there is an increased risk of harm for medical functioning and that other organs may also be affected.
A positive test result means that an individual has experienced an increase in transferrin while having a deficient level of carbohydrates. Any test results from the CDT blood test that are 1.7% or higher are considered a positive test. This percentage is directly influenced by the amount of alcohol that is consumed, so heavier drinkers are going to have a higher overall percentage.
Body size, weight, and drinking habits may also play a role in the CDT blood test. People who are smaller in stature and drink primarily on an empty stomach may experience a positive test result on an average of just 3-4 drinks per day. Larger individuals who primarily drink with meals may not achieve a positive test result until they’ve consumed an average of 6-7 drinks per day.
How Sensitive Is the CDT Blood Test?
Most people will experience an increase in CDT levels after 2 weeks of consistent heavy alcohol use. To put 5 standard drinks in perspective, that’s the equivalent of 8 ounces of hard liquor, a full bottle of wine, or 5 cans of beer. If someone continues on at this level of alcohol consumption for a prolonged period of time, then the sensitivity levels of this test are known to reach as high as 80%. The CDT blood test is also more sensitive in men than it is in women.
How Can I Influence My CDT Levels?
Once CDT levels have been raised, it often takes several weeks of abstinence from alcohol to get them to return to normal. When alcohol levels are moderated after heavy use, however, a 30% reduction in CDT levels tends to occur right away, especially if someone does not have risk factors for heart disease development, such as high cholesterol. It may only take 72 hours for CDT levels to return back to a normal range, however, especially if an individual does not have a lifelong history of heavy drinking.
CDT levels that spike after beginning to return to normal are generally considered an indication that a heavy drinker has returned to their previous habits.
Most Insurance Providers Will Cover The Costs Of The CDT Blood Test.
It is also covered in the United States by both Medicaid and Medicare. The cost of having high CDT levels when preparing for a medical procedure is one that is often too high to pay, so even if the blood test must be paid out of pocket, it is an investment that is well worth making. Results are typically available in 48 hours or less.
Unless you meet the heavy drinking behaviors that have been outlined, then the CDT blood test results explained here have no bearing on your overall health. This is a specific blood test designed to diagnose and monitor heavy drinking behaviors. Avoid alcohol before a procedure and this blood test may be able to be avoided.