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Hyperkalemia
(High Blood Potassium)

What is Hyperkalemia?

  • Hyperkalemia is an excessive level of potassium in the bloodstream.
    • Potassium has several important functions in the body.
    • It is essential for the normal functioning of the muscles, heart, and nerves.
    • Potassium helps the body regulate activity of muscle, including the smooth muscle (involuntary muscles, such as the muscles found in the digestive tract), skeletal muscle (voluntary muscles, such as muscles of the extremities and torso), and the muscle of the heart.
    • It is also important for maintaining normal heart electrical rhythm and for normal electrical signals in the nervous system.
  • The normal potassium level in the blood is 3.5-5.0 milliEquivalents per liter (mEq/L).
  • Potassium levels between 5.1 mEq/L to 6.0 mEq/L are considered to be mild hyperkalemia.
  • Potassium levels of 6.1 mEq/L to 7.0 mEq/L are moderate hyperkalemia, and levels above 7 mEq/L reflect severe hyperkalemia.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2015

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Hyperkalemia (High Potassium)

What Causes Hyperkalemia?

Hyperkalemia is a condition caused by an abnormally high concentration of potassium in the blood. Potassium is a key element in contraction of muscles (including the heart) and for the functioning of many complicated proteins (enzymes). Potassium is found primarily in the skeletal muscle and bone, and participates with sodium to contribute to the normal flow between the body fluids and the cells of the body (homeostasis). The concentration of potassium in the body is regulated by the kidneys, and balance is maintained through excretion in urine. When the kidneys are functioning normally, the amount of potassium in the diet is usually sufficient for use by the body and the excess is excreted. Chemical and hormonal influences also help regulate the internal potassium balance. When hyperkalemia occurs, there is an imbalance resulting from a dysfunction of these normal processes.

SOURCE:
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