Are You at Risk for Hyperkalemia? Here’s What You Need to Know

Can you have too much of a good thing? Yes! Potassium, for one. It’s an important mineral for human beings, essential for helping cells function normally. And that’s just the start.
However, hyperkalemia is a condition that occurs when a person has too much potassium in their body, according to a post by HeartInsight.
Dangers of hyperkalemia

The condition interferes with the heart’s myocardium, causing various problems with heart rhythm called arrhythmias. In severe cases, the condition can be fatal.

Who is at risk?

Since the kidneys play a major role in keeping the correct amount of potassium in our bodies, diseases and conditions that affect the kidneys often cause hyperkalemia or put someone at a higher risk for it.

These include:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes that affects the kidneys
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Serious injuries that result in muscle damage, large blood transfusions, or extensive burns
  • Medications that affect potassium levels (like some blood pressure drugs)
  • HIV
  • Alcoholism
Diagnosing hyperkalemia

Diagnosis can be tricky because, often, there are no symptoms. Even when there are symptoms, the symptoms that occur are not unique to the condition and may be confused or overlooked for another issue.

For example, symptoms could include:

  • Weak or irregular pulse
  • Nausea
  • Being irritable
  • Weak or numb muscles
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Collapsing suddenly after the heartbeat slows down or even stops
The best way to be diagnosed if you experience any of these symptoms is to have your potassium levels tested. Often, people must have several tests as well as clinical information gathered to receive a diagnosis.

Those with chronic kidney disease, using salt substitutes or taking medicines for high blood pressure or heart disease may want to pay special attention to the symptoms of hyperkalemia.


Treatment includes putting calcium into the body using an IV to repair the damaged muscles or heart. Medicines that can help remove excess potassium from a person’s intestines may also be administered.

Hyperkalemia can be tricky to diagnose, but if you think you are at risk, speak to your doctor today about prevention and testing.

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