What Causes Hyperkalemia?

Discussion Potassium (K+) is an alkali metal (Group 1 of periodic table with Hydrogen, Lithium and Sodium) with an anatomic number of 19. Its chemical symbol K, comes from the medieval Latin, kalium which means potash (mainly potassium carbonate or potassium hydroxide), the substance it was first isolated from. Potassium is an important cation and it mainly resides in the intracellular fluid with only a small amount in the extracellular fluid. Potassium regulates cell volume, pH and enzyme functions. Hyperkalemia is defined as a potassium level > 5.5 mEq/L in children and > 6.0 mEq/L in newborns. Hyperkalemia increases cellular membrane excitability and can cause significant problems with the myocardium, resulting in potentially lethal dysrhythmias. The problem is that hyperkalemia can be completely asymptomatic for the patient and even on ECG. First ECG changes are peaked T waves occurring around > 5.6 mEq/L. With increased K+ levels, the PR interval prolongs and the QRS complex becomes widened. Physical symptoms due to hyperkalemia include muscle weakness, reduced deep tendon reflexes, and paresthesias. Symptoms of the underlying disease obviously also occur. Hyperkalemia is a medial emergency because of its cardiac problems. Treatment is started if there is electrocardiographic changes or serum K+ > 6.0-6.5 mEq/L. K+ levels > 6.0 mEq/L are common in neonates and young children due to pseudohypokalemia (i.e. hemolysis caused by venipuncture or capillary...
Source: PediatricEducation.org - Category: Pediatrics Authors: Tags: Uncategorized Source Type: news