What do high potassium levels indicate?


Quick Answer

A high potassium level indicates that it is above the normal range, which is 3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter, states Mayo Clinic. Having too much potassium in the blood is referred to as hyperkalemia. When the potassium level is more than 7.0 millimoles per liter, it is a serious condition that needs prompt medical attention.

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Full Answer

Potassium is a mineral that is necessary for the proper functioning of the heart, muscles and nerves. It acts as an electrolyte. When potassium levels are very elevated, it can cause problems with the proper functioning of the heart, relates WebMD.

Some causes of hyperkalemia are too much potassium in the diet, taking potassium supplements, using certain medications and excessive drug or alcohol use. There are many medical conditions that also tend to cause hyperkalemia, including kidney disease, diabetes, Addison's disease and tumors. Although some people with hyperkalemia will not experience any symptoms, this medical condition can present symptoms like erratic pulse rates and slow heartbeat.

The treatment of hyperkalemia requires the removal of the excess potassium in the body. This can mean avoiding the use of food products that contain potassium, not taking potassium supplement and taking medications that lower the potassium levels. Similarly, when the condition has affected muscles or the heart, intravenous calcium may be necessary to treat the condition, explains the National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus.

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