Fast Five Quiz: Can You Identify and Treat Hyperkalemia?

Vecihi Batuman, MD; A. Brent Alper, Jr, MD, MPH


December 14, 2020

Hyperkalemia—serum potassium greater than approximately 5.0-5.5 mEq/L in adults—is associated with kidney disease, a diet high in potassium, and drugs that impair renal potassium excretion. It can also appear in infants or children with certain genetic disorders. Other less common causes include poorly controlled diabetes, taking extra potassium as a supplement, burns or other severe injuries, and Addison's disease. Hyperkalemia is not common in the general population but affects up to 10% of hospitalized patients. While patients with hyperkalemia are normally asymptomatic, those with extremely high levels (≥ 7.0 mEq/L) may experience life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, muscle weakness, or paralysis.

Owing to a lack of distinctive signs and symptoms, hyperkalemia can be difficult to diagnose. In fact, it is frequently discovered as an incidental laboratory finding. The physician must be quick to consider hyperkalemia in at-risk patients.

Are you familiar with the identification and treatment of hyperkalemia? Test your knowledge with this quick quiz.


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