How is hyperkalemia (high serum potassium level) defined?

Updated: Jun 20, 2018
  • Author: Eleanor Lederer, MD, FASN; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Answer

Hyperkalemia is defined as a serum potassium concentration greater than approximately 5.0-5.5 mEq/L in adults; the range in infants and children is age-dependent. Levels higher than 7 mEq/L can lead to significant hemodynamic and neurologic consequences, whereas levels exceeding 8.5 mEq/L can cause respiratory paralysis or cardiac arrest and can quickly be fatal. See the image below.

Widened QRS complexes in patient whose serum potas Widened QRS complexes in patient whose serum potassium level was 7.8 mEq/L.

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