otassium is a good thing. It is a mineral
and an electrolyte that plays an important
role in cell function, muscle contraction,
nerve conduction and keeping the heart
beating in normal rhythm.
Hyperkalemia, however, is too
When it occurs, it can interfere with the electric
much of this good thing. Hyperkalemia happens when
potassium levels are above normal. For most people,
their potassium level should be between 3. 5 and 5.0
millimoles per liter (mmol/L). Hyperkalemia is a
potassium level of greater than 5. 5.
signals produced in the middle muscle tissue of the heart,
known as the myocardium. This interference may lead to
different types of heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias).
In some cases, too much potassium can lead to fatal
Risk Factors & Causes
Certain conditions and medications put people at risk
• Diabetes: Diabetes may lead to diabetic kidney
• Chronic kidney disease: Normally the kidneys are
responsible for maintaining the right balance of
potassium in our system. If you take in more K,
the periodic table symbol for potassium, than your
kidneys can get rid of, or if your kidney function
decreases, you may develop hyperkalemia.
disease that may prevent the kidneys from keeping
potassium in normal balance.
• Congestive heart failure: Hyperkalemia is a common
occurrence in patients with heart failure, particularly
when they have some level of kidney failure.
Not Good for
Excerpted and adapted