Hyperkalemia is higher-than-normal levels of potassium in the blood.
High potassium; Potassium - high
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Potassium is involved in regulating muscle tissue, and is part of digestion,
Hyperkalemia occurs when the level of potassium in the bloodstream is higher than normal. This may be related to an increase in total body potassium or the excess release of potassium from the cells into the bloodstream.
The kidneys normally remove excess potassium from the body. Most cases of hyperkalemia are caused by disorders that reduce the kidneys' ability to get rid of potassium.This may result from disorders such as:
Acute kidney failure Chronic kidney failure Glomerulonephritis Obstructive uropathy
- Rejection of a
Any time potassium is released from the cells, it may build up in the fluid outside the cells and in the bloodstream.
- Disorders that cause blood cells to burst (hemolytic conditions)
Rhabdomyolysisfrom drugs, alcoholism, coma, or certain infections
- Traumatic injury
If the kidney is working properly, and there is enough aldosterone, tissue trauma alone rarely leads to hyperkalemia. A normally functioning kidney will remove the excess potassium that has been released from the cells.
Increased intake of potassium can cause hyperkalemia if kidney function is poor. Salt substitutes often contain potassium, as do many "low-salt" packaged foods.
Hyperkalemia may be caused by medications, including medications that affect kidney function (potassium sparing diuretics, such as spironolactone, amiloride, or triamterene) and potassium supplements (especially intravenous potassium).
Review Date: 11/15/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.