Q:

What causes elevated CK levels?

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Quick Answer

Damage to the heart, brain or skeletal muscles causes elevated creatine kinase levels, according to Better Medicine. Higher creatine kinase levels are often associated with heart attacks and trauma.

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Full Answer

Better Medicine explains that creatine kinase is an enzyme mainly found in the heart, brain and skeletal muscles. Three types of creatine kinase can be measured: CK-MM, found in the heart and skeletal muscles, CK-MB in the heart and CK-BB in the brain. Creatine kinase, particularly CK-MB, increases within hours of a heart attack as the cells of the heart muscle die. The enzyme continues to increase 18 to 24 hours following a heart attack and gradually goes back to normal after a few days. Troponin is the blood test used to determine the presence of a heart attack when creatine kinase levels are elevated.

Trauma and conditions that cause damage to the skeletal muscle are also linked to higher creatine kinase levels, says Better Medicine. Troponin is sometimes used to detect muscle problems or to assess the extent of muscle damage. Elevated creatine kinase levels also result from stroke and other types of brain damage. Cardiac symptoms that are likely to occur along with higher creatine kinase include difficulty breathing, chest pain, fast heart rate, excessive sweating and paralysis.

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