What are cardiac and skeletal muscle effects of hyperkalemia (high serum potassium levels)?

Updated: Apr 09, 2020
  • Author: Eleanor Lederer, MD, FASN; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Answer

High levels of potassium cause abnormal heart and skeletal muscle function by lowering cell-resting action potential and preventing repolarization, leading to muscle paralysis. Classic ECG findings begin with tenting of the T wave, followed by lengthening and eventual disappearance of the P wave and widening of the QRS complex. [29] However, varying degrees of heart block are also common.

Just before the heart stops, the QRS and T wave merge to form a sinusoidal wave.


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