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What causes high creatine kinase levels?

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Quick Answer

An elevated creatine kinase level may be caused by conditions such as a stroke, heart attack, trauma or muscle destruction, explains Healthgrades. Severe alcohol withdrawal, an infection of the lining of the heart and brain injury are also causes of elevated creatine kinase in the body.

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Full Answer

Creatine kinase is a naturally occurring enzyme primarily found in the heart, skeletal muscles and brain, states Healthgrades. As an elevated creatine kinase level can be caused by extremely serious conditions, people who do not seek medical help risk serious complications including death. People who are experiencing rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, chest pain or sudden weakness on one side of the body should call 911 for immediate assistance.

Three different types of creatine kinase may be measured during a creatine kinase test, according to Healthgrades. This includes CK-BB, which is found in the brain; CK-MM, which is found in the heart and skeletal muscles; and CK-MB, which is found mainly in the heart. Elevated levels of creatine kinase, particularly CK-MB, often occur within hours of a person experiencing a heart attack. This elevation occurs as the cells that make up the heart muscle die. When creatine kinase levels are raised, there is a test available that can confirm whether a heart attack has occurred.

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