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Creatine phosphokinase test

CPK test

Creatine phosphokinase (CPK) is an enzyme in the body. It is found mainly in the heart, brain, and skeletal muscle. This article discusses the test to measure the amount of CPK in the blood.

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Blood test

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed. This may be taken from a vein. The procedure is called a venipuncture.

This test may be repeated over 2 or 3 days if you are a patient in the hospital.

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is needed most of the time.

Tell your health care provider about any medicines you are taking. Drugs that can increase CPK measurements include amphotericin B, certain anesthetics, statins, fibrates, dexamethasone, alcohol, and cocaine.

How the Test will Feel

You may feel slight pain when the needle is inserted to draw blood. Some people feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the Test is Performed

When the total CPK level is very high, it most often means there has been injury or stress to muscle tissue, the heart, or the brain.

Muscle tissue injury is most likely. When a muscle is damaged, CPK leaks into the bloodstream. Finding which specific form of CPK is high helps determine which tissue has been damaged.

This test may be used to:

The pattern and timing of a rise or fall in CPK levels can be significant in making a diagnosis. This is particularly true if a heart attack is suspected.

In most cases other tests are used instead of or with this test to diagnose a heart attack.

Normal Results

Total CPK normal values:

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

High CPK levels may be seen in people who have:

Other conditions that may give positive test results include:

Risks

Risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

Considerations

Other tests should be done to find the exact location of muscle damage.

Factors that may affect test results include cardiac catheterization, intramuscular injections, trauma to muscles, recent surgery, and heavy exercise.

Related Information

Enzyme
Heart attack
Chest pain
Dermatomyositis
Polymyositis - adult
Malignant hyperthermia
Muscular dystrophy
Spinal cord trauma
Seizures
Electrical injury
Hypothyroidism
Pericarditis - after heart attack
Rhabdomyolysis

References

Borg K, Ensrud E. Myopathies. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 136.

Hamel J, Statland JM. Muscle disease. In: Wing EJ, Schiffman FJ, eds. Cecil Essentials of Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 124.

Mccullough PA. Interface between renal disease and cardiovascular illness. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 98.

Pincus MR, Carty RP. Clinical enzymology. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 21.

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Review Date: 3/15/2021  

Reviewed By: Thomas S. Metkus, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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