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Short-term mortality risk of serum potassium levels in acute heart failure following myocardial infarction.

AIMS: Diuretic treatment is often needed in acute heart failure following myocardial infarction (MI) and carries a risk of abnormal potassium levels. We examined the relation between different levels of potassium and mortality.

METHODS AND RESULTS: From Danish national registries we identified 2596 patients treated with loop diuretics after their first MI episode where potassium measurement was available within 3 months. All-cause mortality was examined according to seven predefined potassium levels: hypokalaemia <3.5 mmol/L, low normal potassium 3.5-3.8 mmol/L, normal potassium 3.9-4.2 mmol/L, normal potassium 4.3-4.5 mmol/L, high normal potassium 4.6-5.0 mmol/L, mild hyperkalaemia 5.1-5.5 mmol/L, and severe hyperkalaemia: >5.5 mmol/L. Follow-up was 90 days and using normal potassium 3.9-4.2 mmol/L as a reference, we estimated the risk of death with a multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazard model. After 90 days, the mortality rates in the seven potassium intervals were 15.7, 13.6, 7.3, 8.1, 10.6, 15.5, and 38.3%, respectively. Multivariable-adjusted risk for death was statistically significant for patients with hypokalaemia [hazard ratio (HR): 1.91, confidence interval (95%CI): 1.14-3.19], and mild and severe hyperkalaemia (HR: 2, CI: 1.25-3.18 and HR: 5.6, CI: 3.38-9.29, respectively). Low and high normal potassium were also associated with increased mortality (HR: 1.84, CI: 1.23-2.76 and HR: 1.55, CI: 1.09-2.22, respectively).

CONCLUSION: Potassium levels outside the interval 3.9-4.5 mmol/L were associated with a substantial risk of death in patients requiring diuretic treatment after an MI.

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