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Hyperkalemia: Symptoms, Common Risk Factors, and Management
MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: You or someone you care about may have been diagnosed with hyperkalemia, a problem in which too much potassium is in the blood. This video will help you understand more about hyperkalemia, including its symptoms, common risk factors, and management. There are often no symptoms of hyperkalemia. However, mild symptoms that appear over time may include nausea, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling. More severe symptoms that happen suddenly and require immediate medical care may include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea or vomiting. The body needs to keep the right amount of potassium in the blood for nerves and muscles including the heart to work normally. Potassium is one of several minerals that the body gets from food. Most of it is stored in the cells of the body, and a small amount stays outside the cells as well as in the blood. Healthy kidneys help to maintain normal levels of potassium in the blood, by passing excess potassium out of the body in urine. There are risk factors that may damage or impair the kidneys, or prevent the body from keeping potassium in its cells, leading to hyperkalemia. Some common risk factors for hyperkalemia include chronic kidney disease, a condition where the kidneys gradually lose their ability to work properly; heart failure, a condition where the heart has trouble pumping blood to the rest of the body; high blood pressure or hypertension, a disease where the force of blood on the walls of the arteries is too high and may lead to complications like chronic kidney disease and heart failure; diabetes, a disease where too much sugar is in the blood, and taking medications for these or other conditions, which may prevent the kidneys or the body from maintaining normal levels of potassium. A doctor may do a blood test to check the body's potassium level. For most people, a normal range is from about 3.5 to 5.0. Hyperkalemia is a potassium level greater than five. If you are at risk for high potassium, speak with your doctor about ways to manage your potassium levels. You may be asked to avoid or limit eating foods that are high in potassium. In addition, your doctor may make changes to your medications. To help minimize your risk of hyperkalemia, it's important that you know your risk factors, potassium level, foods to avoid, and medications you're taking. If you have questions about hyperkalemia, or any medications you have been prescribed, talk to your doctor. It is important to take your medications as directed, and report any side effects you have.