Potassium is essential for cells to function properly.
High potassium is a level determined by a specific blood test:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) Potassium level
You may get a result that shows a high level of this mineral. It may make sense to repeat the test. If you repeatedly see higher levels, it's imperative to speak with your doctor.
What is High Potassium?
High potassium levels are a problem in which the amount of potassium in the blood is higher than normal. The medical name of this condition is hyperkalemia. High potassium can create interference with muscle activity. If you feel a cramp in your leg or in another targeted area, this could be reason.
Why Worry About High Potassium Levels?
High potassium levels may cause heart issues such as:
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat or abnormal heart rhythm)
- Hyperkalemia: causes muscle fatigue and paralysis
- his condition can cause kidney disease and diabetes
What Causes High Potassium?
- Herbal Medicines
- Siberian Ginseng
- Lily of the Valley
- Milk Wood
- Addison's disease
- Burns over large areas of the body
- Certain medicines such as water pills (diuretics) or blood pressure drugs
- Damage to muscle and other cells from certain street drugs, alcohol abuse, untreated seizures, surgery, crush injuries and falls, certain chemotherapy, or certain infections
- Disorders that cause blood cells to burst (hemolytic anemia)
- Severe bleeding from the stomach or intestines
- Taking extra potassium, such as salt substitutes or supplements
Treatment for High Potassium
Emergency treatment may include:
- Calcium given into your veins (IV) to treat the muscle and heart effects of high potassium levels
- Glucose and insulin given into your veins (IV) to help lower potassium levels long enough to correct the cause
- Medications that help remove potassium from the intestines before it is absorbed
Changes in your diet can help both prevent and treat high potassium levels. You may be asked to:
- Limit or avoid asparagus, avocados, potatoes, tomatoes or tomato sauce, winter squash, pumpkin, and cooked spinach
- Avoid taking salt substitutes if you are asked to eat a low-salt diet
Your doctor may make the following changes to your medicines:
- Reduce or stop potassium supplements
- Stop or change the doses of medicines you are taking, such as ones for heart disease and high blood pressure