HYPERKALEMIA

Hyperkalemia is having too much potassium in your blood. A proper balance of potassium helps the heart and other muscles work properly. Too much potassium in your blood can lead to dangerous, and possibly deadly, changes in heart rhythm.

Symptoms of hyperkalemia can include:

  • Abnormal heart rhythm — arrhythmia — that can be life-threatening
  • Slow heart rate
  • Weakness

DIAGNOSIS

Hyperkalemia can be difficult to diagnose. The symptoms can be mild and may be due to many different health problems.

Your doctor will ask questions about your medical history, diet, and use of medications and will give you a physical exam. Lab tests will be done to check the level of potassium in your blood and urine. An electrocardiogram, called ECG or EKG, will be done to check for problems with your heart rhythm. Not every person with hyperkalemia has changes that can be seen on an ECG. Sometimes, changes that are seen may be mistakenly attributed to another disease.

 

RECOMMENDED MEDICATIONS

Your doctor will monitor your heart rate and, if needed, recommend treatments to remove the extra potassium from your blood.

Treatment may include:

  • Sodium polystyrene sulfonate
  • Water pills
  • Insulin and glucose
  • Dialysis

Other treatments depend on the cause of hyperkalemia.

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