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What are the risks of recurring high potassium?

Having too much potassium in your blood can lead to serious health issues, which is why it is important to keep your levels in balance over time.1

If your levels are too high, it can affect the way your heart muscles work, which may lead to irregular heart rhythms (also known as arrythmia). In the worst case, this can cause a heart attack, leading to hospitalization or even death.2 

High potassium (hyperkalemia) can also increase the levels of a hormone called aldosterone.3 Increased aldosterone may have adverse (negative) effects on your brain, kidneys, blood vessels, and heart.4,5 

If you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), your high potassium can increase the risk of developing the last stage of kidney disease, otherwise known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD). This may need to be treated and/or managed with dialysis.6

If you need dialysis, this will usually involve your blood being cleaned by a machine. This typically takes 3-5 hours at a time and may need to be done 3-6 days a week.

Depending on your circumstances, dialysis may be carried out at home, or in a hospital or specialized treatment centre.7

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What are the risks of recurring high potassium?

Some other serious health issues associated
with high potassium are:2

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Peripheral neuropathy
(nerve damage)

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Renal tubular acidosis
(where the acid levels in your blood become too high)

Find out what treatments are available
for high potassium


What are the risks of stopping medications that cause high potassium?

Your high potassium may be a side effect of the medication you are taking. 

One option your doctor may consider is to reduce or completely stop the dose.

As some of these treatments are crucial for protecting your heart and kidneys, stopping or reducing the dose could worsen your overall condition and prognosis.

This can lead to an ongoing cycle where your different medications are regularly adjusted because of their effects on your other conditions, as shown below.8

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What are the risks of stopping medications that cause high potassium?

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To avoid this cycle of stopping and starting your medication, it is very important to talk with your doctor about what other options are available.

They can support you to manage and maintain a safe potassium level, so you are able to keep taking your vital medications over time.

Ask your doctor how you can avoid having to
stop and start your medications 


What are the benefits of
long-term control?

There are many benefits to achieving long-term control of your high potassium. These include:

What are the benefits of long-term control?

Talk to your doctor about how you can
achieve long-term potassium control



1. Weisberg LS. Crit Care Med 2008;36(12):3246–51. 2. Hunter RW, et al. Nephrol Dial Transplant 2019;34: iii2–iii11. 3. Palmer BF. N Engl J Med 2004;351:585−92. 4. Albaghdadi M, et al. Eur Heart J 2011;32:2626—33. 5. Struthers AD, et al. Cardiovasc Res 2004;61:663−70. 6. Provenzana M, et al. J. Clin. Med. 2018,7,499; doi:10.3390/jcm7120499. 7. NHS. Dialysis. Available at: Date accessed: November 2021. 8. Dunn JD, et al. Am J Manag Care 2015;21:S307–15.