What is the treatment for elevated potassium levels in the body?


Quick Answer

Water pills, insulin, glucose and dialysis are among the treatments for elevated potassium, a condition known as hyperkalemia, according to WebMD. Sodium polystyrene sulfonate is another possible treatment for high potassium levels.

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Full Answer

To diagnose high potassium levels, a doctor often listens to the heartbeat and questions the patient about diet, medical history and medications, claims WebMD. Lab tests check potassium levels in the blood and urine. Since a number of factors may affect potassium levels, if a test indicates high results, a doctor often recommends a second test for verification. The doctor may also order an electrocardiogram to diagnose high potassium though not all changes due to high potassium can be seen.

Since too much potassium in the blood may have a negative effect on the heart, doctors recommend testing for those who feel weak or who have a slow heart rate or an abnormal heart rhythm, explains WebMD. If left untreated, high potassium levels may cause the heart to stop beating, causing death. It also may cause a life-threatening change to heart rhythm, known as a cardiac arrhythmia. In addition, a condition known as ventricular fibrillation may occur, which may cause the lower part of the heart to flutter rapidly instead of pumping blood. Both of these conditions require immediate emergency treatment.

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