Creatine phosphokinase (CPK/CK - MB/BB/MM)

Clinical definition of the Creatine Phospho Kinase (CPK) test
Creatine phosphokinase (CPK) is one of the enzymes found primarily in the heart, skeletal muscles and brain. This enzyme's primary function is to convert the creatine into phosphate, which then gets consumed or burned up as a quick energy source by the cells of the body. When any kind of muscle damage or stress occurs, the levels of CPK enzyme rise significantly. This is because muscle injury causes the muscle cells to burst open and spill out their contents into the bloodstream. Since a large amount of the CPK enzyme is present in the muscle cells, their splitting open results in spilling of CPK into the blood, thereby raising the levels of CPK present in the blood.

Why is the Creatine Phospho Kinase (CPK) test done?
The CPK test is a laboratory test that measures the level of creatine phosphokinase (CPK) in the blood and is used to detect muscle damage in the body. CPK acts as a marker to diagnose problems such as heart attack, determine the cause of chest pain, neurological disorders, death of muscular tissue, convulsions and to give information about the muscular dystrophy status of a patient. Low CPK levels are indicative of acute viral hepatitis and alcoholic liver disease. Thus, a CPK blood test would help diagnose several medical conditions and helps in treatment before further damage is caused.
However, this test is not specific for the type of CPK enzyme that is elevated. The testing of CPK isoenzyme would help pinpoint the exact source of the damaged tissue.
CPK is made of three slightly different substances:

  • CPK-1 (CPK-BB) found mostly in the brain and lungs
  • CPK-2 (CPK-MB) found mostly in the heart
  • CPK-3 (CPK-MM) found mostly in skeletal muscle

What are the common signs/symptoms when the Creatine Phospho Kinase (CPK) test is done?
High CPK levels may be seen in patients who have:

  • Heart attack
  • Brain injury or stroke
  • Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis)
  • Convulsions
  • Delirium tremens
  • Dermatomyositis or polymyositis
  • Lung tissue death (pulmonary infarction)
  • Muscular dystrophies

Who should do the Creatine Phospho Kinase (CPK) test (Target population)?
Persons showing the above symptom; those who have had a muscle injury or have had or at a high risk for a heart attack.

What should I do before the CPK test?

Specimen type

Specimen collection procedure

Preparatory instructions before the test *


(Blood Sample)


(Collection of blood from a vein, usually from the arm)

No Fasting Required.

No other special preparations required.

*Subjects suffering from any illness or on oral or injectable medications are advised to consult their physician prior to requesting any tests or procedures.

How do I interpret my Creatine Phospho Kinase (CPK) test results?

Reference Range*


Normal Range

Adult Male

21 to 232 IU/L**

Adult Female

21 to 215 IU/L




0 - 90 days

29 - 303 U/l

43 - 474 U/l

3 - 12 months

25 - 172 U/l

27 - 242 U/l

13 - 24 months

28 - 162 U/l

25 - 177 U/l

2 - 10 yrs

31 - 152 U/l

25 - 177 U/l

11 - 14 yrs

31 - 152 U/l

31 - 172 U/l

15 - 18 yrs

34 - 147 U/l

28 - 142 U/l

**IU/L- International Unit per liter

‘*A Reference range is a set of values which helps the healthcare professional to interpret a medical test. It may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Reference ranges may also vary between labs, in value & units depending on instruments used and method of establishment of reference ranges’

Diseases/conditions related to the Creatine Phospho Kinase (CPK) test

  • Myocardial infarction 
  • Autoimmune myositides
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Acute renal failure
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Polymyositis
  • Malignant hyperthermia 
  • Myositis
  • Myocarditis
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
  • Mcleod syndrome 
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Alcoholic liver disease 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Other tests related to the Creatine Phospho Kinase (CPK) test

  • hs-CRP
  • SGOT
  • LDH
  • Electrolytes
  • Haemogram
  • ECG (echocardiogram)
  • Stress test
  • Chest X-ray 
  • Myoglobin
  • Troponin
  • Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP)
  • Blood gases
  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
  • Basic Metabolic Panel

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CPK (Creatine Phosphokinase)