Potassium in the blood: indicators of the norm and causes of deviation

Potassium is one of the important trace elements in the cells of our body. In his blood there is a very small amount of the total level - only 2%.Therefore, even a slight excess of potassium in the

blood can greatly affect the health and performance of the body. In addition to the standard analysis of potassium in the blood, this study is used to assess the effects of certain drugs( diuretics), to identify and diagnose the treatment of certain chronic diseases.

Table of Contents:
  • Norm
  • Hyperkalemia, what is it?
  • Causes when Potassium is Increased in Blood
  • Symptoms of Hyperkalemia
  • Treatment of
  • How to Lower Potassium in Blood
  • Which food products should I avoid?
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In order to effectively analyze the results, it is necessary to rely on some reference values ​​taken as the norm. For an adult, the rate of potassium in the blood is 3.5-5.5 mmol / l. Accordingly, if this indicator is less than the lower limit of the norm, a lack of potassium in the blood is diagnosed, that is, hypokalemia, if, on the contrary, it is more, then there is talk of an excess of potassium in the blood plasma, this is called hyperkalemia. In diagnostics, both types of deviations matter, but today we will talk in more detail about the increased level of potassium in the bloodstream.

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Hyperkalemia, what is it?

Any condition in which the level of potassium in the blood increases above 5.6 mmol / l is hyperkalemia. It has its own symptoms and consequences, which we will talk about later, and is also classified according to severity into 4 groups:

  • Mild hyperkalemia;
  • Medium;
  • Heavy;
  • Extremely heavy.

Potassium, which is contained mainly within cells, has many important functions and tasks, including:

  1. Support for water-salt, acid-base and osmotic balance.
  2. Involved in muscle contraction, including cardiac muscle.
  3. Activation of multiple enzymes.

The balance between intracellular and extracellular potassium occurs with the participation of all regulatory mechanisms. In the case of the normal functioning of all systems, an excess of potassium in the body is not formed, despite the fact that up to 200 mmol is supplied with food. We owe this to the work of the kidneys and adrenal hormones, which remove potassium naturally and keep its concentration in the blood at a constant level.

Problems at any stage of this scheme can cause increased potassium in the blood, and in turn, deviations in the work of nerves, heart and muscles.

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Causes when potassium is elevated in blood

-or pathological abnormalities in the body, the destruction of cells, especially red blood cells, occurs on an enlarged scale, and therefore potassium is increased in the blood.

Secondly, potassium rises above the norm due to impaired kidney function, which are responsible for removing excess element from the body.

So actually, excess of potassium per day in the products does not play a big role, because the kidneys quickly adapt, and the more you consume potassium, the more it is eliminated from the body. But despite the fact that a diet with a high content of potassium in food is rarely an independent cause of hyperkalemia, it can aggravate the condition with other more serious deviations.

In addition, the causes of high potassium in the blood can be as follows:

  • Recently postponed labor;
  • Injuries;
  • Acute renal or hepatic failure;
  • Surgery;
  • Forced loss of fluid from the body( vomiting, diarrhea, frequent urination, increased sweating, etc.);
  • Oxygen starvation of tissues;
  • Large area burns;
  • Alcohol poisoning;
  • Diabetes Mellitus;
  • Tuberculosis;
  • Autoimmune Diseases;
  • Addison's disease;
  • Amyloidosis;
  • Sickle Cell Anemia;

In addition to these factors, you can highlight the intake of certain medications that contribute to an increase in potassium in the blood. These include indomethacin, heparin, muscle relaxants, spironolactone, etc.

Much less frequently, causes of increased potassium in the blood are congenital. Such a disease, as familial hyperkalemic periodic paralysis, is automno-dominant. The patient at the same time periodically feels weakness in the muscles or an attack of immobility. This happens, for example, with active muscular load. In this case, it is not always possible to notice an excess of potassium in the body, it can manifest itself only at the moments of attacks, and also moments with potassium deficiency or compliance with the norm are not rare.

Separately it is necessary to say about pseudohyperkalemia. It is caused by the release of potassium from the cells into the bloodstream directly at the time of blood collection. This can occur if the physician does not follow the established venpuncture technique, for example, it pulls the cord too tight or it is attached to the arm for too long. Another reason is thrombocytosis and leukocytosis, that is, potassium leaves the cells to form a thrombus. If the patient does not have clinical signs of hyperkalemia and there are no obvious reasons for suggesting this disease, the pseudo-hyperkalemia hypothesis should be checked and a blood test should be repeated, possibly in another laboratory.

Intensive exercise also causes increased potassium levels in the blood, but this phenomenon is temporary and soon, at rest, the level of potassium stabilizes. Therefore, it is very important to properly prepare for blood donation and not engage in sports, at least 12 hours before going to the laboratory.

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Symptoms of hyperkalemia

The more pronounced the deviation of potassium in the blood from the norm, the more tangible the symptoms will be. Among the signs of excess potassium in the blood can be observed the following:

  1. Deviations in the nervous system
  • Drowsiness;
  • Anxiety
  • Trembling and weakness of muscles;
  • Increased muscle tone;
  1. Problems of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.(The nervous, cardiovascular and respiratory systems are most susceptible to the effects of potassium, while at the same time the slightest deviations in their work can pose a threat to life, which is dangerous and increased potassium in the blood).
  • Pulse change;
  • Heart murmur;
  • Cardiac muscle enlargement;
  • Dyspnea;
  • Easing heartbeat;
  • Change in cardiogram( sharpening of the T wave, an increase in the intervals of P-R and ORS);
  • Paralysis of the respiratory muscles;
  1. Gastrointestinal upset also refers to the symptoms of an excess of potassium in the body.
  • Nausea, vomiting;
  • Flatulence;
  • Poor appetite;
  • Intestinal paresis
  1. Hormonal abnormalities
  • Inability to maintain normal blood pressure in the kidneys;
  • Glucose intolerance;
  1. Kidney problems
  • Too much urination( polyuria), followed by a lack of urine( anuria).

If the analysis showed an excess of potassium in the body, and the symptoms do not manifest themselves, do not rush to make a diagnosis for yourself. The analysis of potassium in the blood is rather “fastidious”, and in order to obtain reliable results, it is necessary to perfectly prepare for the analysis, take the blood, save it and separate the serum, as well as process the sample promptly and correctly. Error at any stage can drastically affect the result.

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Treatment of

The most important thing at the first stage of diagnosis is to determine the causes of excess potassium in the blood. If, in addition to the results of the analysis, no signs and visible causes are observed, pseudo-hyperkalemia should be clarified first, then a conclusion is made about the presence or absence of acute and severe chronic renal failure.

Also, when clarifying the answer to the question of what this means “increased potassium in the blood,” it is necessary to find out which medications were taken to influence the analysis, and whether the deviation is associated with excessive consumption of potassium from food.

With further diagnostics, the volume of total circulating blood and the volume of urine are measured for a specific time interval.

Before reducing potassium in the blood, the danger to the body is assessed not only by analysis of this element, but also by the results of ECG and other clinical analyzes( for example, aldosterone levels).

After finding out the reasons for this deviation, procedures are carried out to reduce potassium in the blood, the specific method of treatment depends on the level of excess and other individual characteristics of the patient.

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How to lower potassium in blood

In addition to treating the underlying disease that causes an excess of potassium, the therapy includes mineralocorticoid drugs, a diet with a reduced potassium content.

Unfortunately, an excessive excess of potassium in the body leads to a threat to life, and then you need to quickly take effective measures to bring the situation under control. This is necessary if the level of potassium exceeds 7.5 mmol / l.

  1. If a patient takes any drugs that contain potassium or contribute to its accumulation, their use is immediately stopped or replaced with another.
  2. 10% calcium gluconate is injected intravenously at a low rate to prevent the threat of heart muscle. Its action is shown already in a few minutes on the cardiogram and lasts for an hour. If there is no effect on the ECG, it is re-administered at the same dosage.
  3. To direct elevated potassium from the blood plasma into cells, insulin and glucose are injected. In the presence of diabetes, only fast-acting insulin is administered.
  4. Another version of drugs that send potassium ions back to the cells is beta-2 adrenostimulants and sodium bicarbonate. Bicarbonate should not be used for CRF, as there may be a risk of excess sodium in the body.
  5. If the kidneys have not lost their productivity and high potassium in the blood is caused by non-disruption of their work, diuretics are used to speed the excretion of potassium from the body.
  6. The most extreme and effective method - hemodialysis, is used in case other methods, such as removing potassium from the body, did not work. Hemodialysis removes excess elements( as in the case of potassium) or toxic waste products. This method is widely used for kidney failure.
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What foods should be avoided?

After receiving the result of the analysis, which says "a lot of potassium in the blood," what does this mean for you? Firstly, it is necessary to undergo a further examination in the medical institution, which we discussed above, and secondly, to start a diet.

Record holder for potassium is dried apricots, with 1717 mg per 100 grams of product! Further, to reduce the content of potassium products are located in the following row:

  • Legumes;
  • Seaweed;
  • Prunes;
  • Raisins;
  • Almond;
  • Hazelnut;
  • Lentils;
  • Peanuts;
  • Pine Nuts;
  • Mustard;
  • Potato;
  • Walnuts.

In some cases, it is enough to only change the diet and the potassium level stabilizes, but in any case, the decision on taking any measures should be made by the doctor, based on the medical history and patient tests.

If you have any questions about hyperkalemia: what it is, symptoms, its causes and treatment, leave them in the comments.

God bless you!