What Causes High CK Levels?

High creatine kinase, or CK, levels in the human body occur after one of several maladies, including a heart attack, skeletal muscle injury, drinking too much alcohol, taking certain medications and strenuous exercise, according to University of Rochester Medical Center’s Health Encyclopedia. If a test indicates high CK levels, a patient may have some kind of muscle or heart damage.

CK level tests are useful for monitoring myocardial infarction and muscle myopathies. Mayo Clinic explains that doctors can diagnose skeletal muscle disease, viral myositis, polymyositis and hypothyroidism with CK tests. Such elevated levels indicate some kind of muscle damage but not the location, according to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry.

CK is released when myocardial cells are damaged, thereby increasing levels in the body. According to Mayo Clinic, a rise in CK activity occurs four to eight hours after an injury. Levels reach a maximum at 12 to 24 hours after an incident and then return to normal three to four days later.

Other maladies are diagnosed with elevated CK levels in conjunction with blood tests. The AACC notes that kidney functions are evaluated because myoglobin levels affect the kidneys. The Mayo Clinic states that intramuscular injections may cause a transient elevation of CK levels.