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Hyperkalemia

Higher than normal levels of potassium in the circulating blood; associated with kidney failure or sometimes with the use of diuretic drugs.

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(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Emergency interventions for hyperkalaemia

No trials with clinically‐important outcomes were identified. Many of the studies were conducted in convenience samples of patients. Many of the trials were methodologically flawed. Adverse events were rarely reported. Decrease in serum potassium was the most frequently reported outcome: for this outcome beta agonists and intravenous insulin‐and‐glucose were effective. The combination may be more effective than either alone.

Interventions for non‐oliguric hyperkalaemia in preterm neonates

Elevated levels of potassium (an important salt for normal body functions) are common in infants born very preterm or with birth weight less than 1500 g. High potassium levels in the blood may lead to irregular or rapid heart rate that may result in bleedings in the brain and/or sudden death. The objective of this review was to determine the effectiveness and safety of interventions for this serious condition. Two studies enrolling 52 infants that assessed the use of a combination of insulin and sugar to reduce the blood levels of potassium were identified. This combination reduced the duration of high blood levels of potassium and the risk for bleeds in the brains of the infants. One study that enrolled 19 patients reported on the use of albuterol (a medication that helps to move potassium from the blood to the body cells). Albuterol lowered the blood levels of potassium both at four and at eight hours after the treatment had started. Because of the few infants enrolled in the studies to date, no firm recommendations for the treatment of too high blood levels of potassium in neonates can be made. Further research is needed.

Pharmacological interventions for the acute management of hyperkalaemia in adults

We searched for all studies that tested whether therapies were effective and safe at treating high potassium published up to 18 August 2015. We found seven studies that investigated drug therapies for treating hyperkalaemia in adults which together included results from 241 participants. Most studies tested the therapies in male and female adults with kidney problems who were medically stable. We did not find any studies that looked at the serious medical complications of high potassium such as death.

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Summaries for consumers

Emergency interventions for hyperkalaemia

No trials with clinically‐important outcomes were identified. Many of the studies were conducted in convenience samples of patients. Many of the trials were methodologically flawed. Adverse events were rarely reported. Decrease in serum potassium was the most frequently reported outcome: for this outcome beta agonists and intravenous insulin‐and‐glucose were effective. The combination may be more effective than either alone.

Interventions for non‐oliguric hyperkalaemia in preterm neonates

Elevated levels of potassium (an important salt for normal body functions) are common in infants born very preterm or with birth weight less than 1500 g. High potassium levels in the blood may lead to irregular or rapid heart rate that may result in bleedings in the brain and/or sudden death. The objective of this review was to determine the effectiveness and safety of interventions for this serious condition. Two studies enrolling 52 infants that assessed the use of a combination of insulin and sugar to reduce the blood levels of potassium were identified. This combination reduced the duration of high blood levels of potassium and the risk for bleeds in the brains of the infants. One study that enrolled 19 patients reported on the use of albuterol (a medication that helps to move potassium from the blood to the body cells). Albuterol lowered the blood levels of potassium both at four and at eight hours after the treatment had started. Because of the few infants enrolled in the studies to date, no firm recommendations for the treatment of too high blood levels of potassium in neonates can be made. Further research is needed.

Pharmacological interventions for the acute management of hyperkalaemia in adults

We searched for all studies that tested whether therapies were effective and safe at treating high potassium published up to 18 August 2015. We found seven studies that investigated drug therapies for treating hyperkalaemia in adults which together included results from 241 participants. Most studies tested the therapies in male and female adults with kidney problems who were medically stable. We did not find any studies that looked at the serious medical complications of high potassium such as death.

See all (7)

More about Hyperkalemia

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Also called: Hyperkalaemia, Hyperkalemic, Hyperkalaemic

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