The CK CPK blood test is used to measure the amount of creatine phosphokinase that is in the blood. This is an enzyme that can be found around the brain, the heart, and skeletal muscles. Doctors will order this blood test when they suspect that there may be some sort of inflammation around the brain or these muscles. People who have dark urine, muscle weakness, or unexplained muscle aches may also have rhabdomyolysis, which this test will screen to find.
Higher enzymes tend to occur when there is damage that is present within the body and actively occurring. This is why the CK CPK blood test is often one of the first things ordered when a patient complains of chest pain. A heart attack or anything else that causes damage to the skeletal or heart muscle tissues will release the enzymes and create a positive test. The test is also sensitive enough to detect multiple heart attacks after a first occurs.
This test may also be ordered after a physical trauma, an extensive burn, or when muscle pain is chronic with no known explanation. For those taking medications that have a side effect of causing muscle damage, the CK CPK blood test will be ordered to track progress. No test preparation is needed to have the CK CPK blood test completed.
What Do the Test Results Mean?
A high CK CPK blood test result will indicate that there is muscle damage that has occurred recently. Doctors will often perform multiple tests to determine if there are changes that have happened and use the first test as a baseline. A second result that is higher than the first result often indicates that recent muscle damage has occurred. If the second result is lower than the first, then this is an indication that new damages have stopped.
Chronically high, persistent, or increasing results from the CK CPK blood test show that there is ongoing muscle damage that is continuing to occur. If the presence of rhabdomyolysis has been confirmed, then their blood test results may be 100x that of normal levels in the average person.
When there is chest pain present along with a high result on the blood test, then this is generally treated as evidence that a heart attack has occurred. If the blood test levels are only slightly higher than what is considered normal, then this may mean the individual has simply had a long session of strenuous exercise or played a contact sport. Weight lifters typically have higher than normal results.
What Is Rhabdomyolysis?
It is the rapid breakdown of muscle tissues. It can be caused by virtually anything, including a traumatic injury, a viral infection, toxins, or even a blood clot. The complications of muscle deterioration vary from individual to individual, so the CK CPK blood test may be ordered when muscle pain or weakness is chronic and ongoing.
What Else Can a High CK CPK Blood Test Mean?
There is a specific motor neuron disease that affects men which is called Kennedy’s disease. It usually begins to show signs and symptoms between the ages of 20-40, but can happen anywhere from a man’s teens to his 80’s. The symptoms in their early stages are typically muscle fasciculations, hand tremors, and muscle cramps when exercising. This eventually leads to limb weakness, difficulty swallowing, and aspiration pneumonia.
There is no known treatment for this disease, although physical therapy is often recommended as it has been shown to prevent muscle weakness and atrophy. The life span of people with this disease is usually normal when compared to the general population, but men will have a positive CK CPK blood test sometimes when Kennedy’s disease is active.
What Are Treatment Options For High Levels?
If the CK CPK blood test comes back as positive, then finding the source of the muscle damage will become the top priority. If a toxin is causing the damage, for example, then environmental changes will be recommended. In the case of a heart attack, treatment options are designed to stabilize the individual to prevent further heart attacks from occurring. For injuries, treatment will focus upon creating the condition to heal.
Muscle damage can be difficult to detect sometimes. This blood test makes it possible for doctors to make a more accurate diagnosis to a specific medical condition. Although the physical symptoms that require the CK CPK blood test can be a bit scary, the results are definitive and can be used as a screening and tracking tool. Speak with your doctor about your specific results and what they mean to your health.