What is creatine phosphokinase?
According to Johns Hopkins, creatine phosphokinase (CPK) is an enzyme found in your heart, brain and muscles. CPK is important to muscle function. When your body becomes injured due to disease or injury, CPK enzymes can leak into your bloodstream.
How are you tested for CPK?
A blood test can be used to measure your CPK levels. The test can also determine the different forms of CPK in the blood that can correlate to a different point of injury or disease.
What do the CPK levels mean?
CPK levels can vary from person to person. An individual can have elevated CPK levels as a result of a heart attack or a disease such as lupus. A healthy person can have elevated levels as the result of strenuous exercise or a reaction to medication. Sometimes, CPK levels can be elevated for a non-specified reason. In other words, the reason for elevated levels may be unknown.
What should you do about elevated CPK levels?
The tricky part of making medical interpretations based on CPK levels is that, as mentioned, the numbers vary from person to person. Gender, race, age and level of activity can all influence CPK levels. What may be considered a high CPK level for one person could be a normal level for someone else. If your CPK levels have risen since your last blood test, you should talk to your doctor about factors that may be influencing your levels, such as strenuous exercise and any medication your are taking – especially drugs that lower cholesterol. You should also let your doctor know the amount of alcohol you are consuming and if you have taken any steroids. Your doctor can use your CPK levels as one piece of information to help determine your overall health.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.