How is hyperkalemia (high serum potassium level) treated?

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

The aggressiveness of therapy for hyperkalemia is directly related to the rapidity with which the condition has developed, the absolute level of serum potassium, and the evidence of toxicity. The faster the rise of the potassium level, the higher it has reached, and the greater the evidence of cardiotoxicity, the more aggressive therapy should be.

In severe cases, treatment focuses on immediate stabilization of the myocardial cell membrane, rapid shifting of potassium to the intracellular space, and total body potassium elimination. In addition, all sources of exogenous potassium should be immediately discontinued. (See Treatment.)


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