Enzyme Markers

What Are Enzyme Markers?

Enzymes are highly specialized complex proteins that aid chemical changes in every part of the body. For example, they help break down food so your body can use it effectively, and they help your blood clot. They’re present in every organ and cell in your body. Your body needs enzymes to function properly.

Enzyme markers are blood tests that analyze specific enzyme activity in the body. Some inherited diseases or conditions can cause these enzymes to stop working or be less efficient.

Monitoring the rise or fall of enzyme levels can aid in the diagnosis of a variety of conditions. Your doctor can order a blood test for enzyme markers or a routine blood test to help them discover abnormalities. In some cases, you may need to take the test multiple times over the course of several days to measure changes over time.



What Are the Common Types of Enzyme Markers?

CPK Isoenzymes

The CPK isoenzyme test measures the creatine phosphokinase (CPK) in the blood. CPK enzymes are in the heart, brain, and skeletal muscles.

CPK-1 resides mostly in the brain and lungs. Increased levels of CPK-1 can be due to:

  • brain cancer
  • brain injury, stroke, or bleeding in the brain
  • pulmonary infarction, which is the death of lung tissue
  • seizure
  • electroconvulsive therapy

CPK-2 levels rise following a heart attack. Increased levels of CPK-2 may also be due to:

  • open heart surgery
  • inflammation of the heart muscle
  • heart injury
  • defibrillation
  • electrical injuries

High CPK-3 levels can be a sign of muscle stress, a crush injury, or injury due to:

  • muscle damage, dystrophy, or inflammation
  • intramuscular injections
  • electromyography, which is a muscle and nerve function test
  • recent surgery
  • seizures
  • strenuous exercise

Heart Enzymes

Some heart enzymes slowly enter your blood if you’ve had a heart attack and your heart is damaged as a result. A general test for emergency room patients with heart attack symptoms is a test for the presence of heart enzymes in the blood.

Liver Enzymes

Elevated liver enzymes may be due to inflammation or damaged liver cells. Usually, elevated liver enzymes aren’t the result of a serious or chronic liver disease. They can be due to:

  • prescription medications, such as statins
  • over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as acetaminophen
  • alcohol consumption
  • heart failure or heart attack
  • liver disease, such as hepatitis, fatty liver disease, cancer, and cirrhosis
  • obesity
  • celiac disease, which is a digestive condition
  • viruses, such as cytomegalovirus infection, mononucleosis, and Epstein-Barr virus
  • inflammatory diseases, such as dermatomyositis, pancreatitis, and gallbladder inflammation
  • muscular diseases, such as muscular dystrophy or polymyositis
  • hemochromatosis, which is a disorder in which there’s too much iron in the blood
  • an underactive thyroid
  • Wilson’s disease, which is a disorder in which there’s too much copper stored in the body


How Are Enzyme Marker Tests Performed?

The test is a routine blood test, and it takes place in a laboratory. No fasting or special preparation is necessary. However, tell your doctor about all prescription and OTC medications and supplements you take.

A blood test involves the following steps:

  1. A healthcare provider will use an antiseptic to clean a small area of your arm, usually the inside of your elbow or the back of your hand.
  2. They’ll then wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to create pressure and make it easier to access a vein.
  3. They’ll insert a needle into your vein and blood will flow into a small vial. You’ll likely feel the stick of the needle or a stinging sensation.
  4. After filling the vial, the healthcare provider will remove the elastic band and the needle.
  5. They’ll place a bandage over the puncture site and send the sample to a lab for analysis.

The procedure should take only a few minutes.



What Are the Risks Associated with Enzyme Marker Tests?

Your arm may be sore at the puncture site and you might have some mild bruising or brief throbbing.

Most people have no serious or lasting side effects from a blood test. Rare complications include:

  • bleeding
  • lightheadedness
  • fainting
  • infection, which is a small risk whenever the skin is broken

Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.



What Do the Test Results Mean?

Abnormal test results can indicate a variety of problems from disease to a simple muscle strain because enzymes are present in every cell of your body. Your doctor will be able to determine a proper course of treatment based on your exact enzyme marker levels and the symptoms you’re having.

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