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Elevated Potassium - Hyperkalemia

Continuing Medical Education

Hyperkalemia, elevated serum potassium and the current approach to the diagnosis and treatment of potassium disorders. CME Eligible.

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by Kruti Vora, MD, M.C.A. Butman and M.P. Butman, MD

“Hyperkalemia” refers to an elevated serum potassium level. In most cases, this occurs when the kidneys are unable to excrete potassium and is usually due to diseases that damage the kidneys, disorders that affect their ability to excrete potassium, diseases that raise potassium levels independent of any problem with the kidneys, or a combination of the aforementioned. The most common causes of chronic kidney damage is diabetes and hypertension. Kidney damage may also occur acutely from dehydration, hypotension, kidney stones, iodinated contrast used in imaging, and the adverse effects of a myriad of medications including antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin II blockers, immunotherapeutic agents, chemotherapy, IVIG, and antiretroviral therapy.

Disorders that raise potassium levels in a setting of normal kidney function include abnormalities of the adrenal glands (e.g. Addison’s disease/adrenal insufficiency,acquired hyporeninemic hypoaldosteronism, congenital adrenal hyperplasia), hemolysis, tumor lysis, constipation, and metabolic acidosis. . .

More about:

  • Factitious Hyperkalemia

  • Signs and Symptoms of Significant Hyperkalemia

  • Treatment of Hyperkalemia

  • Other Causes of Hyperkalemia

  • FibonacciMD Patient Handout for chronic Hyperkalemia


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Kruti Vora, M.D.

Dr. Vora attended Harvard Medical School and has started her internship in the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Her interests are in medical oncology, advocating for health equity, mentorship, and medical education.

M.C.A. Butman and M.P. Butman, MD


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