Low serum albumin levels are associated with aging and medical conditions such as cancer, liver dysfunction, inflammation, and malnutrition and might be an independent predictor of long-term mortality in healthy older populations.
Low levels of albumin are associated to worse recovery following acute pathologies. Inflammatory state and, particularly, high concentrations of IL-6 and TNF-alpha, are two of the main influencing factors of hypoalbuminemia.
The percentage of patients with a normal serum albumin level (4.0 gm/100 ml or higher) also decreased progressively with age, whereas the frequency of a low serum albumin level increased with age.
If your albumin levels are lower than normal, it may indicate one of the following conditions: Liver disease, including cirrhosis. Kidney disease. Malnutrition. Infection.
Treatment may include: blood pressure medication for people with kidney disease or heart failure. lifestyle changes, particularly avoiding alcohol in people with liver disease. medications to manage chronic gastrointestinal disease or reduce inflammation in the body.
Without enough albumin, your body can’t keep fluid from leaking out of your blood vessels. Not having enough albumin can also make it harder to move important substances throughout your body. Some of these substances are used for essential processes to keep your body fluids in check.
Results: The mean population serum albumin concentration increases to peak at around age 20 years and then decreases with increasing age. Values in females decrease more rapidly but become close to male values at 60 years.
Decreased albumin levels are more frequently associated with chronic conditions affecting the liver like cirrhosis. Although albumin is produced in the liver, abnormally low albumin levels can also be tied to kidney conditions, malnutrition, inflammation, infection, thyroid disease, and gastrointestinal problems.
When the level of protein in the blood is low, water may leave the blood vessels and collect in the tissues. Water in the tissues is called “edema”. Critically ill patients develop edema for many reasons. A low albumin level can cause edema or increase the amount of edema from other causes.
Hypoalbuminemia is common in patients with heart failure, and this condition becomes more prevalent with increasing age and illness. Hypoalbuminemia is thought to result mainly from malnutrition, inflammation and cachexia.
Inflammation and malnutrition both reduce albumin concentration by decreasing its rate of synthesis, while inflammation alone is associated with a greater fractional catabolic rate (FCR) and, when extreme, increased transfer of albumin out of the vascular compartment.
Function. Albumin functions primarily as a carrier protein for steroids, fatty acids, and thyroid hormones in the blood and plays a major role in stabilizing extracellular fluid volume by contributing to oncotic pressure (known also as colloid osmotic pressure) of plasma.
Certain medicines can raise your albumin levels. These include insulin, steroids, and hormones. If you are pregnant, your albumin levels may be lower. Medicines such as birth control pills may also lower your albumin levels.
A normal albumin range is 3.4 to 5.4 g/dL. If you have a lower albumin level, you may have malnutrition. It can also mean that you have liver disease or an inflammatory disease. Higher albumin levels may be caused by acute infections, burns, and stress from surgery or a heart attack.
Therefore, to correct for an albumin level of less than 4 g/dL, one should add 0.8 to the measured value of calcium for each 1-g/dL decrease in albumin. Without this correction, an abnormally high serum calcium level may appear to be normal.