Treatment Of High Blood Potassium Levels
Maintaining the blood potassium levels is necessary to avoid having heart-related problems and complications. Your doctor will recommend the following ways of treating high potassium levels:
- Diuretics for flushing out potassium through urination
- Dialysis to filter your blood
- Potassium binders are medications that bind to the extra potassium in the bowel and are then removed through stool.
- Following a low potassium diet
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Potassium is present in all fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. Foods with high potassium concentrations include yam, parsley, dried apricots, milk, chocolate, all nuts , potatoes, bamboo shoots, bananas, avocados, coconut water, soybeans, and bran.
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The USDA lists tomato paste, orange juice, beet greens, white beans, potatoes, plantains, bananas, apricots, and many other dietary sources of potassium, ranked in descending order according to potassium content. A day’s worth of potassium is in 5 plantains or 11 bananas.
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Diets low in potassium can lead to hypertension and hypokalemia.
How To Keep Your Potassium Blood Levels In The Normal Range
People with cardiovascular disease need to make extra efforts to maintain their potassium blood levels within the normal range. Your doctor is likely to recommend that the first step towards this is to modify your diet, especially if you are at risk of developing hyperkalemia. You should talk to a dietitian or nutritionist to find out more about what types of high potassium foods you should restrict or avoid altogether. Some of these high potassium foods that should be avoided or limited include:
- Dried fruits like prunes and raisins
At the same time, you should avoid using salt substitutes. Keep an eye on the seasonings you are using as they tend to have a high amount of potassium. Your doctor may also advise you to change your milk products for other dairy alternatives like rice milk. If you are taking any supplements that contain potassium, you may need to stop taking those. However, always discuss with your doctor before taking or stopping any supplements and other medications.
Some good low potassium foods that you should include in your diet if you are watching your potassium levels are as follows:
When To Call Your Doctor
Because the effects of high potassium can be serious, its important to address this condition right away.
If you have extremely high potassium levels, youll need to stay in the hospital until your levels return to normal.
You may want to ask your doctor some of the following questions:
- How much potassium is right for me?
- What could be causing my high potassium level?
- What changes should I make to my diet to lower this level?
- If I need medication, will there be any side effects?
- How often will I need follow-up blood tests?
Potassium Cuts Stroke Risks After Menopause
After menopause, women who get enough potassium in their daily diet have fewer strokes, according to a September 2014 study in Stroke from the American Heart Association. The lower stroke rate could be due to the heart-health benefits of a potassium-rich diet, like blood pressure control and heart rhythm stabilization. Looking at the diets of more than 90,000 women, researchers found that those who had the most potassium in their diets were 12 to 16 percent less likely to have a stroke, report Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, PhD, lead author of the study, and other researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. The women included in the research were between 50 and 79 years old. Those who consumed the most dietary potassium were also 10 percent less likely to die over the 11 years of the study. Their potassium came from food sources rich in the mineral, rather than from supplements.
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Why Your Potassium Level Is High
You get potassium from eating foods that have it, such as bananas, avocados, oranges, and broccoli. When your body is working right, you get all the potassium you need from your diet.
Your kidneys take any extra potassium and send it out of your body when you pee. Sometimes your kidneys aren’t able to do this job and you can end up with too much potassium in your blood.
A normal potassium level for adults is between 3.5 and 5.5 millimoles per liter . If your potassium level is above the normal amount, it can lead to health problems. If your potassium level is above 6.5 mmol/L, it’s dangerously high, and you need medical care right away.
Can You Get Too Much Potassium
Potassium is a critical nutrient that the body needs for supporting the healthy functioning of the nerves, cells, and muscles. A normal blood potassium level should be between 3.5 and 5.0 millimoles per liter . Ideally, people should be getting around 4700 milligrams of potassium each day as it is naturally found in many foods, including:
If there is excess potassium in the blood, your kidneys are able to successfully filter it out through your urine. Sometimes though, the body is unable to eliminate the extra potassium that you consume. This leads to a build-up of potassium in the blood, a condition known as hyperkalemia.
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Renal Factors In Potassium Homeostasis
Sodium reabsorption through epithelial sodium channels located on the apical membrane of cortical collecting tubule cells is driven by aldosterone and generates a negative electrical potential in the tubular lumen, driving the secretion of potassium at this site through the renal outer medullary potassium channels. Aldosterone also regulates sodium transport in the thick ascending limb of the loop of Henle, the DCT, and the connecting tubule.
A family of signaling molecules, the WNK kinases, plays a critical role in the regulation of sodium and potassium transport in the distal nephron. The WNK kinases are suspected of playing a role in the pathogenesis of several forms of hypertension.
WNK1 and WNK4 regulate the expression and function of the NaCl cotransporter and ROMK in the distal tubule. Increased WNK4 activity results in decreased NaCl cotransporter expression, permitting greater delivery of sodium to the cortical collecting tubule, thus facilitating potassium secretion. Conversely, lesser WNK4 activity results in increased NaCl cotransporter expression, diminishing distal sodium delivery, thus limiting cortical collecting tubule potassium secretion.
Renal potassium excretion is increased by the following:
- High sodium delivery to the distal tubule
- High urine flow
- High serum potassium level
- Delivery of negatively charged ions to the distal tubule
Renal potassium excretion is decreased by the following:
Too Much Potassium Is Dangerous Too
Eating potassium-rich foods is an excellent way to help ensure your body always has enough potassium. Foods deliver potassium slowly to the body, since the foods must go through the digestive process to extract the mineral and release it into the bloodstream. Its difficult to get too much potassium through your diet because you would have to eat enormous quantities of food to overdose on the mineral.
Potassium supplements, on the other hand, deliver a large dose of potassium directly to the bloodstream each time you take them. This can lead to another dangerous condition called hyperkalemia, which is too much potassium in the body. Hyperkalemia can cause heart rhythm problems and fluid imbalances that affect kidney function. Always use caution when taking potassium supplements without a doctors supervision.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
If you have hyperkalemia , you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- Why did I get hyperkalemia?
- How often should I get blood tests to check for hyperkalemia?
- How much potassium should I get in my daily diet?
- What foods or supplements should I avoid?
- What, if any, salt substitutes can I use?
- What are the treatment risks and side effects?
- Am I at risk for kidney failure or other problems due to hyperkalemia?
- What follow-up care do I need after treatment?
- Should I look out for signs of complications?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Because hyperkalemia rarely causes symptoms, you may be surprised when a blood test shows that your potassium levels are high. A low-potassium diet can protect your health. Your healthcare provider can determine how much potassium you need or connect you with a dietitian, if needed. A dietitian can help you create meal plans that ensure you get just the right amount of potassium in your diet. Your provider may also change your medications. Potassium levels that reach a dangerously high level can be life-threatening. If youre at risk for hyperkalemia, your provider will closely monitor your potassium levels.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/05/2020.
Foods High In Potassium
- Potato, 1 medium has 926 mg potassium
- Sweet potato, 1 medium has 540 mg potassium
- Spinach, ½ cup cooked has 290 mg potassium
- Zucchini, ½ cup cooked has 280 mg potassium
- Tomato, ½ cup fresh has 210 mg potassium
Legumes and Nuts
- Soybeans, ½ cup cooked has 440 mg potassium
- Lentils, ½ cup cooked has 370 mg potassium
- Kidney beans, ½ cup cooked has 360 mg potassium
- Split peas, ½ cup cooked has 360 mg potassium
- Almonds, one third of a cup has 310 mg potassium
- Bananas, 1 medium has 420 mg potassium
- Oranges, 1 medium has 237 mg potassium
- Cantaloupe, ½ cup has 214 mg potassium
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What Causes High Potassium
The most common cause of high potassium is kidney disease.
Other causes of high potassium include:
- Injuries that cause severe bleeding
- Some rare diseases
If you have kidney disease, you are at risk for high potassium because your kidneys cannot remove the extra potassium in your blood. Instead of leaving your body through your urine, the extra potassium in your blood travels through your kidneys and back into your bloodstream. In time, more and more potassium can build up in your blood.
What Should You Eat To Increase Potassium
The best way to increase your levels is through dietary potassium, meaning from the food youre eating. Try adding more of these foods to your high-potassium diet:
- Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, plus the skins
- Dairy products
Depending on your lifestyle and health, these may help your blood pressure, but they may not be a cure-all.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperkalemia
Many people have few, if any, symptoms. If symptoms do appear, they are usually mild and non-specific. You may feel some muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, nausea, or other unusual feelings. It usually develops slowly over many weeks or months and is often mild. It can recur.
If hyperkalemia comes on suddenly and you have very high levels of potassium, you may feel heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, or vomiting. Sudden or severe hyperkalemia is a life-threatening condition. It requires immediate medical care.
Why Might I Have Hyperkalaemia
Hyperkalaemia is common in people with kidney problems. Foods that we eat contain different amounts of potassium. Your kidneys help to remove excess potassium from the body in the form of urine . If you have chronic kidney disease , your kidneys are not working as well as they should, so they cannot get rid of the extra potassium you get from food. It therefore builds up in your blood.
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Hyperkalemia And Its Causes
An excessive buildup of potassium in they body is referred to medically as hyperkalemia. Healthy people should not worry about consuming too much potassium, because their kidneys can filter out the excess. Hyperkalemia occurs when the kidneys are not functioning properly and are unable to do so. Hemolytic anemia, severe burns, tumors, and intestinal bleeding can also cause hyperkalemia. This is due to metabolic acidosis, where potassium is transported from the inside of cells to the fluid outside of cells. Often, there are no symptoms involved with hyperkalemia, but you may experience nausea a slow, weak, or irregular pulse or fainting.
Can Injecting Potassium Cause A Heart Attack
The risks associated with intravenous potassium chloride are well known. If it is injected too rapidly or in too high a dose, it may cause cardiac arrest within minutes.
Can you OD on potassium chloride?
What happens if I overdose on Potassium Chloride ? Overdose symptoms may include stomach pain, vomiting, irregular heartbeats, chest pain, muscle weakness, loss of movement, numbness or tingling, or feeling light-headed.
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A sequential injection is also key to achieve the desired effects in the appropriate order: administration of the pentobarbital renders the person unconscious the infusion of the pancuronium bromide induces complete paralysis, including that of the lungs and diaphragm rendering the person unable to breathe.
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Can You Have Too Much Potassium
It is possible to have too much potassium. This is a particular concern in people with chronic kidney disease . An excess can lead to a condition called hyperkalemia, and its a serious concern. Dr. Beavers notes that it can cause electrical malfunctions in your heart, and it can eventually begin to stiffen and calcify your arteries. It can also lead to kidney damage when your urinary system is unable to eliminate the excess.
If youre worried youre taking too much potassium, watch out for these warning signs:
- Heart palpitations
Too high potassium levels can be a sign of underlying kidney disease or even renal failure. If you experience any of these symptoms and arent taking a potassium supplement or eating a lot of potassium, your potassium excretion may be impaired. If this is the case, talk to your healthcare provider.
How Is Hyperkalaemia Diagnosed
Hyperkalaemia is diagnosed by a blood test that measures the potassium levels in your blood. If your nurse or doctor is worried about your potassium level, they may suggest that you have an electrocardiogram . This is a test that can be used to check your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity. Patches are stuck to your skin to record the electrical signals produced by your heart each time it beats. A high potassium level can cause changes to your heart rhythm that can be seen on ECG.
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Talk To Your Healthcare Provider
If you are at high risk for hyper- or hypo- kalemia or experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Dietary changes can help prevent and treat high or low potassium levels.
Talk to a healthcare professional to understand any risk you might have for hypo- or hyper- kalemia, as they may recommend foods that you may need to limit, avoid, or increase depending on your potassium status.
Potassium Levels And Their Influence On Afib
Potassium is an electrolyte in your body that performs a vital role in heart function. Along with sodium and calcium, potassium participates in generating and maintaining the normal flow of electrical signals throughout the heart muscle that tells it how fast or slow to pump.
According to the American Heart Association, high potassium, called hyperkalemia, has a link to some types of heart arrhythmias. However, what is the consequence of having low potassium levels, known as hypokalemia?
The International Journal of Cardiology listed a study in October 2013, stating that, Little is known about the association of serum potassium with atrial fibrillation. The research followed a group of 4,059 individuals without AF for almost 12 years. Over that timeframe, 11.7% of the participants developed AF and those with low potassium levels had a higher risk of the onset of the condition.
The European Society of Cardiology published an article in 2008, indicating that low potassium levels increase the risk of developing cardiac arrhythmias.
Arquivos Brasileiros de Cardiology published a study in 2015 showing an inverse correlation between low potassium levels in the bloodstream and the occurrence of acute onset AF.
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An Article From The E
Prof. Petr Widimsky ,FESC
Practicing cardiologists must keep potassium levels within normal limits in all their cardiac patients. Unrecognised hypokalemia is a leading cause of iatrogenic mortality among cardiac patients who have an inherent risk for arrhythmias and who frequently use medications that increase the risks of hypokalemia and/or arrhythmia. Symptomatic or severe hypokalemia should be corrected with a solution of intravenous potassium: 10-40 mEq infused over two to three hours . In less urgent situations, oral supplementation is preferred and safer: 50-100 mEq/d divided two-four times per day. Long-term treatment should be based on the recognition of the hypokalemia cause.
Link Between High Potassium And Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term used to refer to a number of heart-related problems. These include:
- Problems with the heart valves
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and it is estimated that cardiovascular disease kills one American every 37 seconds.
Some of the common risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, lack of physical activity, and obesity.
If you are at a risk of developing cardiovascular disease, it is essential to consult your doctor and to have a plan to help manage these risk factors.
Additionally, high potassium blood levels have also been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Staying within the healthy potassium blood level range is needed for the body to support healthy electric signaling in the heart. Healthy levels of potassium also help your muscles function properly, including the muscles that control your breathing and your heartbeat.
However, if you have too much potassium in the blood, a condition known as hyperkalemia, it can create many problems for your health and even prove to be life-threatening if left untreated.
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