A Brief Review of the Pharmacology of Hyperkalemia: Causes and Treatment

James M. Wooten, PharmD; Fernanda E. Kupferman, MD; Juan C. Kupferman, MD, MPH


South Med J. 2019;112(4):228-233. 

In This Article


Hyperkalemia is a common problem in adults and children. Pharmacologically, hyperkalemia is interesting because there are several drugs and drug classes that can cause hyperkalemia via various mechanisms. There also are several different drugs that can be used to treat hyperkalemia, including two agents recently approved by the FDA for treating hyperkalemia, patiromer and ZS-9. Practitioners should become familiar with these new therapies because they may offer advantages over older drugs. Understanding how to appropriately treat hyperkalemia is extremely important because its incidence is certain to increase as the population ages and that population's renal function declines.