What are possible causes of excessive potassium intake in patients with hyperkalemia (high serum potassium level)?

Updated: Apr 09, 2020
  • Author: Eleanor Lederer, MD, FASN; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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When hyperkalemia is discovered, investigate potential pathophysiologic mechanisms. For excessive potassium intake, query patients about the following:

  • Eating disorders - Very unusual diets consisting almost exclusively of high-potassium foods, such as fruits (eg, bananas, oranges, or melons), dried fruits, raisins, fruit juices, nuts, and vegetables with little to no sodium

  • Heart-healthy diets - Very low–sodium and high-potassium diets recommended for patients with cardiac disease, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus

  • Use of potassium supplements in over-the-counter herbal supplements, sports drinks, dietary supplements such as noni (Morinda citrifolia) juice, salt substitutes, or prescribed pharmacologic agents

Many patients with hypertension have heard the advice to eat a banana a day because the potassium in it reduces blood pressure. They may not realize that in the case of renal insufficiency and hypertension, this is potentially a life-threatening practice.

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