Enzymes are proteins that assist with chemical actions in the body. After taking a series of blood samples over a period of a few days, enzyme levels are checked. After a heart attack, the damaged heart muscle releases certain enzymes into the blood. Doctors can determine the severity and type of heart attack by looking at the amount of enzymes released and the fraction of enzyme that is highest at a specific time. This implies that heart enzyme tests can tell doctors if the patient had a heart attack or not.

The cardiac enzyme levels rise shortly after a heart attack. A peak concentration is reached within 12 to 24 hours after the attack. Various enzyme fractions stay elevated for different periods of time. The most commonly measured enzymes are called CPK and CKMB fractions.

Other tests measure the troponin levels in the blood. Troponins are a type of protein. The level of troponin elevation gives an estimate of the degree or amount of muscle damage that occurred during the heart attack. This is a fairly quick and accurate measure to assist with determining the severity of a heart attack.

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