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Hyperkalemia


Overview :

A normal adult who weighs about 70 kg contains a total of about 3.6 moles of potassium ions in the body. Most of this potassium (about 98%) occurs inside various cells and organs, where its concentration is about 150 mM. This level is in contrast to the much lower concentration found in the blood serum, where only about 0.4% of the body's potassium resides. Hyperkalemia can be caused by an overall excess of body potassium, or by a shift from inside to outside cells. For example, hyperkalemia can be caused by the sudden release of potassium ions from muscle into the surrounding fluids.

In a normal person, hyperkalemia from too much potassium in the diet is prevented by at least three types of regulatory processes. First, various cells and organs act to prevent hyperkalemia by taking up potassium from the blood. It is also prevented by the action of the kidneys, which excrete potassium into the urine. A third protective mechanism is vomiting. Consumption of a large dose of potassium ions, such as potassium chloride, induces a vomiting reflex to expel most of the potassium before it can be absorbed.




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