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Am J Med. 1975 Nov;59(5):744-50.

Paradoxical glucose-induced hyperkalemia. Combined aldosterone-insulin deficiency.


Severe hyperkalemia associated with spontaneous hyperglycemia as well as with the intravenous infusions of glucose occurred in an insulin-requiring diabetic patient in the absence of potassium administration, the use of diuretics which inhibit urinary potassium excretion or acidemia. Metabolic balance studies revealed, in addition to diabets, the presence of isolated aldosterone deficiency of the hyporeninemic type. Intravenous glucose infusions (0.5 g/kg body weight) produced significant hyperkalemia but desoxycortisone acetate (DOCA) therapy (10 mg/day) prevented the glucose-induced hyperkalemia. In this patient, the serum potassium concentration increases after the intravenous infusions of glucose because there is insufficient aldosterone and insulin to reverse the transfer of potassium to the extracellular fluid which normally occurs after hypertonic infusions of glucose. Although DOCA replacement modifies the distribution of potassium in the extracellular fluid and blunts the hyperkalemic effect of intravenous infusions of glucose, a rise in the insulin level is required for the usual hypokalemic response to intravenously administered glucose. These studies illustrate the risk of raising blood glucose levels in patients with combined aldosterone and insulin deficiency and the tendency towards hyperkalemia in diabetic patients under certain clinical conditions.

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