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Why Does Kidney Failure Cause Hyperkalemia

2013-02-27 10:52

Why kidney failure patients have high blood potassium? What are the harms of hyperkalemia? How to treat hyperkalemia and kidney failure?

Healthy kidneys have strong regulation of K+ and under normal circumstances blood potassium level can be controlled within normal range. In case of renal parenchymal damages and when renal functions are damaged such as kidney failure, patients will easily develop hyperkalemia. This is because the amount of discharged potassium from the kidneys are far more than that are taken from diets, therefore excessive potassium in the blood is in most cases due to decline of kidney functions and inefficient removing of potassium.

It is called hyperkalemia when serum potassium is higher than 5.5mmol/l. Too much potassium accumulation in the blood can cause severe damages to the heart, respiratory muscles and skeletal muscles.

Symptoms of hyperkalemia

It can inhibit myocardial contraction and cause arrhythmia or even ventricular fibrillation, cardiac arrest, etc.

Patients can feel numbness in their limbs, mouth, extreme fatigue, muscle pains, feeling cold, paleness. When blood potassium is higher than 7, patients can even have the risk of suffocation.

Hyperkalemia can cause metabolic acidosis.

Since hyperkalemia often has no obvious symptoms in the early stage, it can cause sudden stopping of heart beat, therefore it is very important for kidney failure patients to have close monitoring of their serum potassium level as well as other electrolytes and seek timely and proper measure when potassium is high.

Treatment options for hyperlalemia

Intravenous injection of calcium (10-20ml calcium gluconate) to relieve toxicity to the cardiac muscles.

Intravenous injection of sodium bicarbonate or sodium lactate to increase blood volume and dilute potassium concentration.

Injection of glucose and insulin to bring excessive potassium into the cells.

Injection of atropine which has certain effects on blocking cardiac conduction.

Dialysis---peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis which can be adopted when the above treatments are failed to bring down high potassium level.

Low-potassium diet plays certain role in controlling hyperkalemia or it can at least prevent further worsening of hyperkalemia.

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