High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, High… Potassium? What Is Hyperkalemia?

Most people know the dangers of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood-sugar. But most people don’t think about high potassium as a problem. Unfortunately, high levels of potassium can be quite common for those with chronic kidney disease, and can pose serious problems.

The condition is called hyperkalemia. If left undiagnosed or untreated it can lead to heart failure.
Hyperkalemia is so common for those with kidney disease because the kidneys are what removes excess potassium from the body. With poorly functioning kidneys, potassium can easily build up.

The biggest issue is when hyperkalemia begins to cause damage to the heart because many medications to treat heart failure can also increase potassium levels for some people.

However, there’s a drug called Veltassa which may be able to navigate around this problem. It’s a powder that patients can mix with water and then drink. From its clinical trials, it seems to be effective at reducing potassium levels. However, it’s not fast acting so it can’t be used in emergency situations. We must therefore still prioritize quick and accurate diagnosis.

The first step in achieving that, is recognizing the possibility of hyperkalemia.
Although the condition is considered rare, it’s not all that rare in people with chronic kidney disease. And chronic kidney disease is unfortunately fairly prevalent in the United States.

Once diagnosis is achieved, treatment options can be considered. For some, Veltassa will work. For others, they’re able to reduce their potassium levels simply by changing their diet. Foods like tomatoes, peaches, melons, potatoes, and oranges all contain high levels of potassium. By minimizing the intake of these foods, patients can manage their potassium consumption. There are also ways to alter foods so that you can still enjoy them while controlling your potassium. For instance, soaking or boiling potatoes can reduce the amount of potassium they contain.

However, before a solution such as the above is determined by your doctor, medical staff must uncover the reason your potassium is high. If they can find out the underlying cause of hyperkalemia (such as kidney disease) the condition becomes much less complicated and much more treatable.

You can read more about hyperkalemia on U.S. News by clicking here!


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