Hypokalemic periodic paralysis - the importance of patient education

Kristyn L Lewis, Timothy D Malouff, Alex M Kesler, Dana M Harris
Romanian Journal of Internal Medicine 2019 September 1, 57 (3): 263-265
30901316
Hypokalemic periodic paralysis (HOKPP) is a rare neuromuscular disorder caused by altered transport of cellular potassium that leads to significant muscle weakness of the extremities. Paralytic attacks are induced by a drop in the serum potassium level and they have been associated with specific triggers. This case describes a 21-year-old male who has had recurrent presentations of acute paralytic attacks following vigorous physical activity. At presentation, this patient exhibited flaccid paralysis of all skeletal muscles below the neck, but was alert and oriented with stable vital signs. The patient was found to have a potassium level of 2.1 mmol/L and an EKG demonstrating U waves (characteristic of hypokalemia). The patient was treated with potassium supplementation with resolution of symptoms. The mainstay of prevention of long term permanent muscle weakness is avoidance of triggers that can lead to hypokalemia. Through education on disease process and lifestyle modifications, we were able to end the cycle of recurrent hospital readmissions and the subsequent financial burden this generated for the patient and his family.

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