Hyperkalemia is the medical term that describes a potassium level in your blood that’s higher than normal. Potassium is a chemical that is critical to the function of nerve and muscle cells, including those in your heart.
Your blood potassium level is normally 3.5 – 5.2 mEq/l. Having a blood potassium level higher than 6.0 mmol/L can be dangerous and usually requires immediate treatment.
Often a report of high blood potassium isn’t true hyperkalemia. Instead, it may be caused by the rupture of blood cells in the blood sample during or shortly after the blood draw. The ruptured cells leak their potassium into the sample. This falsely raises the amount of potassium in the blood sample, even though the potassium level in your body is actually normal. When this is suspected, a repeat blood sample is done.
The most common cause of genuinely high potassium is related to your kidneys, such as:
Other causes of hyperkalemia include:
High potassium is usually found when your doctor has ordered blood tests to help diagnose a condition you’re already experiencing or to monitor medications you’re taking. It’s usually not discovered by chance.
You may need to change a medication that’s affecting your potassium level, or you may need to treat another medical condition that’s causing your high potassium level. Treatment of high potassium is often directed at the underlying cause. In some instances, you may need emergency medications or dialysis.
If you have symptoms of hyperkalemia, particularly if you have kidney disease or are taking medications to raise your potassium levels, call Kidney Consultants of El Paso immediately. Hyperkalemia is a serious and potentially life-threatening disorder. It can cause:
To schedule an appointment with our office, please fill out the form below and one of our staff members will contact you to schedule your appointment!