Hyperkalemia (High Potassium)

hyperkalemia high potassium
hyperkalemia high potassium

People with hyperkalemia have high potassium levels in their blood. Signs like fatigue and muscle weakness are easy to dismiss. A low-potassium diet and medication changes often bring potassium numbers to a safe level. An extremely high potassium level can cause a heart attack and requires immediate medical care.

What is hyperkalemia (high potassium)?

What is a safe or normal potassium level?

Who might have hyperkalemia (high potassium)?

  1. Addison’s disease.
  2. Alcohol use disorder (alcoholism).
  3. Burns over a large part of your body.
  4. Congestive heart failure.
  5. Diabetes.
  6. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  7. Kidney disease.

What causes hyperkalemia (high potassium)?

In addition to conditions like kidney disease, these factors also contribute to hyperkalemia:

  1. A high-potassium diet, which can result from potassium supplements and salt substitutes.
  2. Medications that contain potassium, such as certain high blood pressure medicines.

What are the symptoms of hyperkalemia (high potassium)?

  1. Abdominal (belly) pain and diarrhea.
  2. Chest pain.
  3. Heart palpitations or arrhythmia (irregular, fast, or fluttering heartbeat).
  4. Muscle weakness or numbness in limbs.
  5. Nausea and vomiting.

How is hyperkalemia (high potassium) diagnosed?

What are the complications of hyperkalemia (high potassium)?

How is hyperkalemia (high potassium) managed or treated?

  1. Diuretics: Also called water pills, these drugs make you pee more often. Your body gets rid of potassium mainly in the urine.
  2. Intravenous (IV) therapy: Extremely high potassium levels need immediate treatment. You’ll receive an IV infusion of calcium to protect your heart. Next, you get an infusion of insulin that helps move potassium into the blood cells. You may also inhale an asthma medication called albuterol to further lower potassium levels.
  3. Medication management: Many people see improvement after stopping or changing certain blood pressure medications or other drugs that raise potassium levels. Your healthcare provider can determine what medication changes to make.
  4. Potassium binders: A daily medication binds to excess potassium in the intestines. You pass the potassium when you poop. Your provider may recommend binders if other treatments don’t lower potassium levels. Potassium binders come in oral and enema forms.
  5. Dialysis: If potassium levels remain high, or you experience kidney failure, you may need dialysis. This treatment helps your kidneys remove excess potassium from the blood.

How can I prevent hyperkalemia (high potassium)?

  1. Asparagus.
  2. Avocados.
  3. Bananas.
  4. Citrus fruits and juices, such as oranges and grapefruit.
  5. Cooked spinach.
  6. Melons like honeydew and cantaloupe.
  7. Nectarines.
  8. Potatoes.
  9. Prunes, raisins, and other dried fruits.
  10. Pumpkin and winter squash.
  11. Salt substitutes that contain potassium.
  12. Tomatoes and tomato-based products like sauces and ketchup.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for people who have hyperkalemia (high potassium)?

When should I call the doctor?

  1. Difficulty breathing.
  2. Extreme muscle weakness or fatigue.
  3. Severe abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  4. Weak pulse, chest pain, or signs of a heart attack.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

  1. Why did I get hyperkalemia?
  2. How often should I get blood tests to check for hyperkalemia?
  3. How much potassium should I get in my daily diet?
  4. What foods or supplements should I avoid?
  5. What, if any, salt substitutes can I use?
  6. What are the treatment risks and side effects?
  7. Am I at risk for kidney failure or other problems due to hyperkalemia?
  8. What follow-up care do I need after treatment?
  9. Should I lookout for signs of complications?