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Am J Med Sci. 2014 Feb;347(2):93-100. doi: 10.1097/MAJ.0b013e318279b105.

Management of hyperkalemia in hospitalized patients.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmaceutical Services (KNF), Emory University Hospital Midtown, Atlanta, Georgia; Department of Pharmacy and Drug Information (TW), Grady Health System, Atlanta, Georgia; and Renal Division (JJD), Emory University School of Medicine, Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The aim of this study was to determine the incidence of treatment of hyperkalemia in hospitalized patients.

METHODS:

This is a prospective chart review of adults in a tertiary care hospital with hyperkalemia (serum potassium [K] ≥5.1 mEq/L) over a 6-month period. The treatments and their effectiveness, causative factors and associated electrocardiographic (ECG) changes were examined.

RESULTS:

There were 154 hyperkalemic episodes, 32 with K ≥6.5 mEq/L and 122 with K<6.5 mEq/L. Overall, 97% received treatment for an average K of 5.9 mEq/L. Sodium polystyrene sulfonate (SPS) was included in 95% of the regimens. Incremental doses of SPS monotherapy yielded potassium reductions between 0.7 and 1.1 mEq/L, and inadequate responses (K <0.5 mEq/L) were less frequent with higher doses. There were no differences in the effectiveness of SPS among dialysis-dependent, chronic kidney disease, or nonchronic kidney disease patients. Greater reductions in potassium were observed using a combination of treatments. ECGs were performed in 44% of patients, and 50% showed no ECG changes despite K being ≥6.5 mEq/L. The most common abnormality, peaked T waves, was associated with a higher frequency of calcium administration but not with the number of K+-lowering therapies.

CONCLUSIONS:

Almost all the patients were treated for hyperkalemia. Oral SPS monotherapy was the predominant treatment with the best response at the highest dose. Some combination therapies had greater K reductions but were used infrequently. An ECG was obtained in about 50% of the cases, but two thirds showed no K-related changes. Reduced kidney function was associated with 70% of hyperkalemic episodes. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and trimethoprim were the most commonly implicated medications.

PMID:
23255245
DOI:
10.1097/MAJ.0b013e318279b105
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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