Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: potassium | risk | health

Is My High Potassium Risky?

Monday, 15 October 2012 09:24 AM

Question: I have been told that I have high potassium. What are the causes and treatment of this?

Dr. Hibberd’s answer:

High potassium levels are life threatening. More specifically, if my potassium were elevated 20 percent or more above the upper limit of normal, I would be in the ER until it was corrected to within a normal range and the cause of its elevation was understood. High potassium levels are precursors to cardiac arrest, and you may have no warning but a collapse. Renal disease and overmedication are the most common causes. If your potassium levels to be on the high side, be sure to avoid all salt supplements as they contain potassium as a substitute for sodium to provide the salty taste. Also ask your doctor to modify any medications that may be contributing to your potassium elevation. Be sure to have this closely rechecked to be sure the recommended intervention has worked as expected. Do not ever supplement your potassium unless under the direct supervision and advice of your medical doctor. Our bodies have a very tight and narrow range for potassium balance, and even small variations from the normal limits can have devastating consequences.

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Even slightly elevated potassium levels can have serious health consequences.
Monday, 15 October 2012 09:24 AM
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