Hyperkalemia: a review.
Potassium is the principal intracellular cation, and maintenance of the distribution of potassium between the intracellular and the extracellular compartments relies on several homeostatic mechanisms. When these mechanisms are perturbed, hypokalemia or hyperkalemia may occur. This review covers hyperkalemia, that is, a serum potassium concentration exceeding 5 mmol/L. The review includes a discussion of potassium homeostasis and the etiologies of hyperkalemia and focuses on the prompt recognition and treatment of hyperkalemia. This disorder should be of major concern to clinicians because of its propensity to cause fatal arrhythmias. Hyperkalemia is easily diagnosed, and rapid and effective treatments are readily available. Unfortunately, treatment of this life-threatening condition is often delayed or insufficiently attentive or aggressive.
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