Hypokalaemia

Posted by e-Medical PPT Saturday, August 7, 2010
Hypokalaemia is the condition in which the concentration of potassium (K+) in the blood is low. Normal serum potassium levels are between 3.5 to 5.0 mEq/L[1]; at least 95% of the body's potassium is found inside cells, with the remainder in the blood. This concentration gradient is maintained principally by the Na+/K+ pump.
Mild hypokalemia is often without symptoms, although it may cause a small elevation of blood pressure and can occasionally provoke cardiac arrhythmias. Moderate hypokalemia, with serum potassium concentrations of 2.5-3 mEq/L, may cause muscular weakness, myalgia, and muscle cramps , and constipation.With more severe hypokalemia,flaccid paralysis,hyporeflexia, and tetany may result. There are reports of rhabdomyolysis occurring with profound hypokalemia with serum potassium levels less than 2 mEq/L. Respiratory depression from severe impairment of skeletal muscle function is found in many patients.
ECGfindings associated with hypokalemia are flattened or inverted T waves, a U wave, and prolongation of the QT interval. The prolonged QT interval may lead to arrhythmias.
Hypokalemia can result from one or more of the following medical conditions:Inadequate potassium intake,Diuretics including thiazide diuretics (e.g. hydrochlorothiazide) and loop diuretics (e.g. furosemide),diabetic ketoacidosis,Alkalosis,abnormal high aldosterone levels can cause hypertension and excessive urinary losses of potassium and Rare hereditary defects of renal salt transporters, such as Bartter syndrome or Gitelman syndrome.

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