Can Drug Use Lead to High Levels of Potassium in the Blood?


Quick Answer

Drug use is one of the causes of high levels of blood potassium, Healthline reports. Other causes include significant alcohol use, kidney failure, taking potassium supplements and chemotherapy drugs, and particular types of trauma.

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Can Drug Use Lead to High Levels of Potassium in the Blood?
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Full Answer

A high level of blood potassium is most often the result of kidney disease, but it may also be drug-induced or the result of excessive potassium release from cells, WebMD states. As kidneys perform the function of removing potassium from the bloodstream, any diseases that affect kidneys or hormones that regulate their functioning also raises the level of potassium in the blood. Higher blood potassium may be an effect of Addison’s disease, for example. Red cells or muscle cells breaking down, as well as certain types of tissue injury, may cause cells to release high levels of potassium.

Taking some medications is known to lead to a higher blood potassium level, either by making the kidneys’ function of removing potassium from blood more difficult or by adding more potassium to the bloodstream outright, Healthline warns. These medications include beta-blockers, Heparin, certain types of blood pressure drugs (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers) and certain antibiotics (such as trimetophrim and penicillin G). Herbal supplements such as Siberian ginseng, lily of the valley and milkweed may also raise the blood potassium level.

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