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What Are the Causes of High Muscle Enzymes?

author image Dr. Shavon Jackson-Michel, ND
Dr. Shavon Jackson-Michel is an expert in the field of health and wellness and has been writing for LIVESTRONG.COM since 2009. She is a university-level professor and a licensed naturopathic physician providing individualized consultations on natural and holistic approaches to chronic disease at her Bloomfield, NJ office. Dr. Jackson-Michel is a doctoral graduate of the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine.
What Are the Causes of High Muscle Enzymes?
Cholesterol medication next to a prescription pad. Photo Credit dina2001/iStock/Getty Images


Muscle enzymes are substances within the cells of muscles that allow them to break down food into the energy. When the cells of muscles become severely injured, they will leak these substances and enzyme levels will become detectable in blood. The identification of significantly increased levels of such enzymes will indicate massive muscle tissue destruction and either suggest or confirm different types of diseases.

Inflammation of Muscles

Muscle inflammation can occur after injury, infection and exercise, or secondary to your body's breakdown of healthy tissues or foreign substances. General symptoms of muscle inflammation include muscle weakness or pain, overall fatigue, difficulty standing, climbing stairs and even difficulty swallowing.

Heart Attack

The heart is a hardworking and very powerful organ, requiring a constant supply of oxygen to its muscular tissue. When the heart muscle receives a less than adequate supply of oxygen-rich blood, the muscle will begin to suffer and, before long, the cells will die. A heart attack is caused by death of crucial heart tissue. The damaged heart muscle will release enzymes into your blood. Tests that detect these enzymes can confirm whether a heart attack has occurred. These enzymes will start to rise after about 6 hours from the start of the heart attack and continue to rise for the next 12 hours. Levels will peak at 18 hours and normalize by 24 to 36 hours after the attack.

Statin Drugs

Statins are a group of medicines that treat high cholesterol. These medications slow down the production of cholesterol by inhibiting the enzyme in the liver that creates it. A side effect of lowering cholesterol in this way is the reduced production of enzymes intimately involved in energy production within the cell. Skeletal muscle cells require a lot of energy and depletion of energy-creating nutrients can lead to massive muscle cell destruction.

Genetic Diseases

Muscular dystrophy encompasses a set of genetic diseases that lead to worsening degeneration and weakness of skeletal muscle over time. Other muscle types can be affected, but as the skeletal muscles control voluntary movement, altered gait may result. Among other common muscle testing procedures, the testing of muscle enzymes in the blood may provide insight into the condition. Muscle enzymes are elevated in the blood of many muscular dystrophy sufferers.

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