Doctor's Notes on Hyperkalemia (High Blood Potassium)
Hyperkalemia refers to the situation in which the blood level of potassium is abnormally high. An elevated level of potassium can have many causes. The main causes of a high potassium level are kidney problems or kidney failure, diseases of the adrenal gland, loss of potassium from inside of cells into the blood circulation, and taking certain medications.
In some cases, particularly with mild elevations of potassium, hyperkalemia does not produce symptoms (asymptomatic). In other cases, signs and symptoms of hyperkalemia include fatigue, nausea, muscle weakness, or tingling feelings. More serious symptoms of hyperkalemia can include a decreased in heart rate and weak pulse. Severe hyperkalemia can lead to heart stoppage and death. A rapid elevation in potassium level is usually more dangerous than one that rises slowly over time.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.