Pharmacy and Wellness Review


Hyperkalemia is a metabolic problem that may be life threatening if left untreated. Cardiac arrhythmias may develop with the potential to lead to cardiac arrest and death. Hyperkalemia can oftentimes be undiagnosed due to the lack of clear, specific symptoms and inconclusive variations in electrocardiogram (ECG) readings and lab values. Therefore, it is important to recognize risk factors that can potentially in-crease serum potassium levels. Screening for medications that increase serum potassium levels and educating patients are steps that both inpatient and outpatient health care professionals can take to increase early detection and prevention of a hyperkalemic episode. It is also important for health care professionals to understand the various treatment options if hyperkalemia does occur. Treatment varies between inpatient and outpatient settings. Inpatient treatments often include cation exchange resins, loop diuretics, insulin, sodium bicarbonate, beta-agonists and calcium infusions; whereas, long-term outpatient management has been limited to chronic dialysis. Newer agents, sodium zirconium and patiromer, may offer significant benefits for the outpatient management of chronic hyperkalemia.



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