What causes shift of potassium into the extracellular space in hyperkalemia (high serum potassium level)?

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

For a shift of potassium into the extracellular space, query patients about the following:

  • Recurrent episodes of flaccid paralysis
  • Presence of diabetes mellitus
  • Use of beta-blocker therapy (eg, for hypertension or angina)
  • Risk factors for rhabdomyolysis, such as heat stroke, chronic alcoholism, seizures, sudden excessive exertion (as in military recruits undergoing basic training), or use of medications that interfere with heat dissipation (eg, tricyclic antidepressants or anesthesia)
  • Risk factors for tumor lysis syndrome, such as ongoing treatment for widespread lymphoma, leukemia, or other large tumors
  • Risk factors for hemolysis, such as blood transfusion and sickle cell disease
  • Redistribution - Metabolic acidosis (diabetic ketoacidosis [DKA]) and catabolic states

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