What causes elevated creatine kinase?

Elevated creatine kinase levels are present when there is destruction of cardiac or skeletal muscle. Creatine kinase levels can also be increased in brain injury, such as stroke. The elevation is detected through a simple blood test.

Causes of elevated creatine kinase

Elevated creatine kinase may be caused by conditions including:

  • Brain injury
  • Delirium tremens (severe alcohol withdrawal)
  • Muscle diseases such as dermatomyositis, polymyositis or muscular dystrophy
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Myocarditis (infection of the middle layer of the heart wall)
  • Rhabdomyolysis (muscle destruction)
  • Stroke
  • Trauma

Questions for diagnosing the cause of elevated creatine kinase

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your elevated creatine kinase including:

  • Are you experiencing any other symptoms?
  • Do you have any chest pain?
  • Have you sustained any recent injuries?

What are the potential complications of elevated creatine kinase?

Because elevated creatine kinase can be due to serious underlying diseases or conditions, failure to seek treatment can result in significant complications and even permanent damage. Once your doctor has determined the underlying cause of your elevated creatine kinase, it is very important to carefully follow the recommended treatment plan in order to reduce the risk of potential complications including:


  1. CK. Lab Tests Online. http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/ck/glance.html.
  2. Creatine phosphokinase test. MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003503.htm.

What is elevated creatine kinase?

Creatine kinase or creatine phosphokinase is an enzyme chiefly found in the brain, skeletal muscles, and heart. An elevated level of creatine kinase is seen in heart attacks, when the heart muscle is damaged, or in conditions that produce damage to the skeletal muscles or brain. Creatine kinase is often incorrectly referred to as creatinine kinase.

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What other symptoms might occur with elevated creatine kinase?

Elevated creatine kinase may accompany other symptoms, which can vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Cardiac symptoms that may occur along with elevated creatine kinase

Elevated creatine kinase may accompany other symptoms of a heart attack including:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Read more about elevated creatine kinasesymptoms

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 1, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves