Oh, the wonderful world of lab tests! So many letters, abbreviations, and confusing numbers. For example, if you’ve recently complained of chest pain, or if your doctor thinks you could have a muscle disease, they may have ordered a lab test called a CK. What does CK mean in blood test results?
What is CK?
CK is an abbreviation for creatine kinase – also known as CPK – or phosphocreatine kinase. Creatine kinase is a muscle enzyme found in three different types in the human body. In skeletal muscle it’s in the form of CK-MM, in the brain, CK-BB, and in the heart muscle, CK-MB. These forms are known as isoenzymes.
Total CK levels go up whenever there’s an injury to muscle – and the CK-MB form of creatine kinase rises when there’s injury specifically to the heart muscle – usually due to a heart attack.
The total CK rises in blood test results when skeletal muscle is injured or damaged. In this case, the type of creatine kinase that goes up is the CK-MM form. A doctor usually orders a CK level when he or she suspects a disease involving muscle tissue like muscular dystrophy or inflammatory muscle diseases such as dermatomyositis and polymyositis.
Creatine kinase can also be elevated in certain neurological diseases that affect muscle tissue such as ALS or Guillain Barr