|CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368|
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Potassium is a mineral that is needed to help the heart, kidneys, and other organs function. Hyperkalemia is higher than normal levels of potassium in your blood.
Potassium is needed to regulate water and mineral balance throughout the body. High levels can disturb the balance of other minerals in the body and cause muscle problems throughout the body. It can also affect the heart’s ability to function properly.
Excess potassium is normally taken out of the blood through the kidneys. Kidney problems or conditions that affect the kidneys’ ability to filter can cause excess potassium in the blood.
Cancer treatments can also cause hyperkalemia as cells are destroyed and potassium moves into the bloodstream.
Genetic disorders may also increase the chances of hyperkalemia.
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that may interfere with kidney function and lead to hyperkalemia:
Factors that may increase your intake of potassium include:
Certain medication may increase potassium levels:
Other factors that may increase potassium levels:
Hyperkalemia may not have any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Potassium can be measured with:
An ECG will be done to see if the potassium is affecting your heart.
Treatment is focused on decreasing blood potassium levels. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
Supplements and Medications
Because hyperkalemia can result in irregular heartbeat, you may be given calcium to protect your heart muscles from damage.
Your doctor may also advise medications to lower the potassium in your blood or body. These may include insulin and/or beta agonist therapy, sodium polystyrene sulfonate, or certain diuretics.
Your current medications may be changed if they are the cause of your hyperkalemia.
Other Supportive Steps
Other treatment specific to the cause include:
To help reduce the chances of hyperkalemia, manage risk factors and/or follow treatment plans for chronic conditions.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
The Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Hollander-Rodriguez J, Calvert J. Hyperkalemia. Am Fam Physician. 2006;73(2):283-290.
Hyperkalemia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115641/Hyperkalemia. Updated June 13, 2016. Accessed March 26, 2018.
Hyperkalaemia in adults. Patient website. Available at: https://patient.info/doctor/hyperkalaemia-in-adults. Updated December 30, 2015. Accessed March 26, 2018.
Potassium and the diet. Colorado State University website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed March 26, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 2/19/2014
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.