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Hyperkalaemia in Cardiological Patients: New Solutions for an Old Problem.

Hyperkalaemia is one of the most common electrolyte disorders in patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD). The true burden of hyperkalaemia in the real-world setting can be difficult to assess, but in population-based cohort studies up to 4 in 10 patients developed hyperkalaemia. In addition to drugs interfering with potassium metabolism and food intake, several conditions can cause or worsen hyperkalaemia, such as advanced age, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. Mortality, cardiovascular morbidity, and hospitalisation are higher in patients with hyperkalaemia. Hyperkalaemia represents a major contraindication or a withholding cause for disease-modifying therapies like renin-angiotensin-aldosterone inhibitors (RAASi), mainly mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists. Hyperkalaemia can be also classified as acute and chronic, according to the onset. Acute hyperkalaemia is often a life-threatening emergency requiring immediate treatment to avoid lethal arrhythmias. Therapy goal is cell membrane stabilisation by calcium administration, cellular intake, shift of extracellular potassium to the intracellular space (insulin, beta-adrenergic agents, sodium bicarbonate), and increased elimination with diuretics or dialysis. Chronic hyperkalaemia was often managed with dietary counselling to prevent potassium-rich food intake and tapering of potassium-increasing drugs, mostly RAASi. Sodium polystyrene sulphonate, a potassium binder, was the only therapeutic option. Recently, new drugs such as patiromer and sodium zirconium cyclosilicate give new opportunities for the treatment of hyperkalaemia, as they proved to be safe, well tolerated, and effective. Aim of this review is to describe the burden of hyperkalaemia in cardiovascular patients, its direct and indirect effects, and the therapeutic options now available in the acute and chronic setting.

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