What Is the Danger of High Blood Potassium Levels?


Quick Answer

High potassium levels in the bloodstream can result in dangerous illnesses, such as paralysis and abnormal heart rhythms, reports Mayo Clinic. Excessive potassium in the bloodstream, or hyperkalemia, can also cause weakness, muscle fatigue and nausea. Potassium is an important nutrient for proper function of nerve and muscles cells throughout the body, including the heart. Normal blood potassium levels are 3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter, and levels above 7.0 millimoles require emergency treatment..

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Treatment may include intravenous calcium to correct the effect of high potassium levels on the muscle and the heart, explains MedlinePlus. Other treatments may include diuretics, medication, and intravenous glucose and insulin to lower potassium levels until the cause is determined. If the hyperkalemia is caused by kidney disease, the patient may need dialysis.

Hyperkalemia can be caused by kidney disease, diuretics or acidosis, says MedlinePlus. Hyperkalemia is sometimes the result of an underlying condition or a side effect of certain medications used to treat high blood pressure or heart disease. Usually, hyperkalemia does not present symptoms, but some patients may feel nauseated or have slow, weak or irregular pulses. A patient may collapse if his heartbeat becomes too slow or stops. Hyperkalemia can be life-threatening, and a patient who is concerned about his potassium levels should consult a physician.

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