Hyperkalemia Information

Page content

Description of Hyperkalemia

Hyper means more than or too much, and kalemia is the medical term for potassium, so the definition of hyperkalemia is excess potassium. According to Weight Awareness, there is no recommended daily allowance for potassium, it is suggested that 2.5 mg for both men and women is adequate. Potassium is found in foods like oranges and bananas, spinach, potatoes and even broccoli or salmon meat. Potassium helps to maintain the balance in the body of water and the acid and base balance in the blood. This also helps with the transmission of nerve impulses and sugar formation along with the muscles. When one has too little potassium in the system, muscle cramps or ‘Charlie Horse’ cramps are felt.

Causes of Hyperkalemia

When kidney functioning is decreased and there is too much potassium taken into the body, hyperkalemia is found. Kidneys will normally remove the excess potassium in the body when they are functioning properly, but when there is only one kidney or the kidneys are damaged, this function no longer helps the potassium levels as it should. This causes too much potassium to be in the blood stream and causes the potassium to access all the organs rather than being streamed out of the body naturally. So ultimately, the cause of hyperkalemia is the lack of kidney functioning to be able to excrete the potassium correctly. This can be caused by medicines that affect the homeostasis of potassium in the system and even dehydration can add to the cause.

Symptoms of Hyperkalemia

High blood potassium levels are found, and this can ultimately lead to heart attacks and death if not treated. Lessened kidney function or high blood serum levels, even a fast change in an electrocardiograph can show signs of the most life threatening hyperkalemia. Urine potassium levels can be seen and tested to find the exact cause of a specific patient’s cause.

Treatments of Hyperkalemia

IV fluids including calcium is the most effective or fixing the ECG changes and reversing the effects that may cause an arrhythmia, but will not help to lower the serum potassium. This can be done only using an IV fluid of insulin and glucose or even a nebulized B2 agonist such as Sodium polystyrene therapy. This can sometimes be used with an IV of furosemide and saline to help lower the potassium levels. This can be hard and almost impossible to identify the condition simply by using the ECG.


National Library of Medicine from the publication Hyperkalemia last update 11/27/2007

WeightAwareness.com from the article Essential Trace Mineral Potassium in the Diet publication date unknown