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Potassium And Renal Failure

2013-05-06 10:13

Renal failure is characterized by loss of kidney functions. When the kidneys are severely damaged, it can not maintain internal balances of water, electrolytes, minerals. Metabolic acidosis, metabolic disorders of water, electrolyte and acid-base are very common among renal failure patients.

Renal failure patients often have potassium metabolic disorder especially when GFR falls below 20-25ml/min or even lower. GFR stands for glomerular filtration rate and it reflects renal functions. Since kidney is the major organ to remove excessive potassium from the blood, when illness condition progresses into the 4th stage or even the end stage, the kidneys can not filter potassium from the blood, therefore patients often develop hyperkalemia. Especially in case of metabolic acidosis, infections, traumas, gastrointestinal bleeding or too much potassium intake, patients are more likely to develop high blood potassium levels.

Serious hyperkalemia (serum potassium higher than 6.5mmol/l) has certain threatens to the patient’s life, therefore early and proper measures should be taken.

Of cause, sometimes renal failure patients can also develop low blood potassium due to inadequate intake, too much loss in the gastrointestinal loss due to diarrhea, vomiting, diuretics, etc. But high blood potassium is more common in clinic, therefore doctors often advice patients to have regular check of their blood potassium levels so as to have early prevention and treatment.

Renal dietitian will suggest a low-potassium diets to reduce the risk of developing hyperkalemia, ease the symptoms and complications of hyperlalemia so as to help reduce burdens to the already impaired kidneys and protect residual kidney functions. High-potassium foods, fruits and vegetables such as avocado, dates, raisins, grapefruit, apricots, mushroom, sweet potatoes, spinach should be avoided or at least controlled under the doctor or dietitian’s guidance according to your specific illness conditions.

If you already developed hyperkalemia or if you have developed into renal failure, you should pay more attention to the potassium requirement for renal failure patients. Anything that you are not very clear, welcome to consult our online doctors, you can also leave us a message or send email to

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