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Hypokalemia

Abnormally low level of potassium in the blood.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Cooling the body after resuscitation following cardiac arrest

In this review, we asked whether people resuscitated from cardiac arrest benefit when their bodies are cooled to a temperature of 34°C or lower.

Treatment for periodic paralysis

Muscle weakness and attacks of paralysis are two important features of periodic paralyses. Paralytic attacks occur in acute episodes and can be incapacitating. Attacks may last from several hours to several days according to the type of muscle channel involved. In some cases permanent muscle weakness can also occur. We are unsure whether such permanent muscle weakness is more likely to develop if the frequency of attacks is high and therefore might be less likely to occur if attacks are fully prevented by treatment. Although the treatment of choice in periodic paralysis is generally considered to be acetazolamide, there is no standardised treatment regimen and no consensus as to when to start treatment. We do not know if acetazolamide treatment prevents any permanent weakness that may occur.

Meta-analysis of incidence and risk of hypokalemia with cetuximab-based therapy for advanced cancer

This review concluded that cetuximab-based therapy for treating cancer was associated with an increased risk of hypokalaemia. It was possible that other confounding factors may have affected results and, because of the types of studies included, the authors were unable to address this. Therefore the conclusion should be treated with some caution.

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Summaries for consumers

Cooling the body after resuscitation following cardiac arrest

In this review, we asked whether people resuscitated from cardiac arrest benefit when their bodies are cooled to a temperature of 34°C or lower.

Treatment for periodic paralysis

Muscle weakness and attacks of paralysis are two important features of periodic paralyses. Paralytic attacks occur in acute episodes and can be incapacitating. Attacks may last from several hours to several days according to the type of muscle channel involved. In some cases permanent muscle weakness can also occur. We are unsure whether such permanent muscle weakness is more likely to develop if the frequency of attacks is high and therefore might be less likely to occur if attacks are fully prevented by treatment. Although the treatment of choice in periodic paralysis is generally considered to be acetazolamide, there is no standardised treatment regimen and no consensus as to when to start treatment. We do not know if acetazolamide treatment prevents any permanent weakness that may occur.

Intravenous aminophylline for acute severe asthma in children over two years receiving inhaled bronchodilators

Acute asthma is a common paediatric emergency prevalent in many countries. Treatment aims to reverse asthma by opening up the airways and targeting the underlying inflammation of the airways. Beta‐agonists, anticholinergic agents and glucocorticoids are currently the most commonly used strategies. In the past, aminophylline has been extensively used for the management of acute asthma, despite side effects. However, its use has declined with the availability of effective inhaled bronchodilators and glucocorticoids. The purpose of this review was to assess whether the use of intravenous aminophylline in children receiving maximised inhaled bronchodilators and glucocorticoids produced additional beneficial effects. We identified a small number of good quality trials which compared aminophylline with placebo in children given inhaled bronchodilators and glucocorticoid therapy. This review found evidence that children treated with aminophylline had a greater improvement in lung function than children treated with placebo, when both groups received inhaled bronchodilators and steroids and they responded incompletely to these initial therapies. However, aminophylline use also resulted in greater risk of vomiting. Aminophylline use in children may be appropriate if children have a role in severe acute exacerbations of asthma where response to maximised therapy (inhaled bronchodilators and glucocorticoids) is poor. These results are based on small numbers and further work in this area is required.

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More about Hypokalemia

Photo of an adult

Also called: Hypokalaemia, Hypopotassemia, Hypopotassaemia, Hypokalemic, Hypokalaemic

Other terms to know:
Hyperkalemia, Potassium

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