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Flashcards in Hypokalaemia Deck (32)
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1

What is the normal range of K in the serum?

3.5 - 5.5 mmol/L

2

At what K concentration do signs and symptoms of hypokalaemia emerge?

<3.0

3

What two organ systems are affected by hypokalaemia?

Muscles:
- Abdomen: cramps, ileus
- Legs: weakness (tends to start in legs then spread to arms)
- Rhabdomyolysis (widespread lysis of myocytes)

Heart:
- ECG changes
- Arrhythmia
- Atrial fibrillation most common

4

What's tricky about rhabdomyolysis due to hypokalaemia?

Hypokaelaemia can trigger rhabdomyolysis, which is the widespread lysis of myocytes.

The lysis can lead to release of intracellular potassium into the serum, which masks the hypokalaemia that orginially triggered it.

5

What muscle signs and symptoms can result from hypokalaemia?

Weakness (starts in legs, progresses to arms)
Cramps
Ileus

Rarely, rhabdomyolysis

6

What cardiac signs and symtpoms are associated with hypokalaemia?

ECG changes
Arrhythmias (most common is AF; can also cause VT and torsades)

7

What ECG changes are associated with hypokalaemia?

ST depression
T wave inversion
Prominent U waves (comes after T wave, before P wave - might look like a double peaked T wave)

8

In which patients are arrhythmias due to hypokalaemia most dangerous?

- QT prolonging drugs
- Digoxin toxicity
- Hypomagnasemia
- Coronary ischaemia

In these cases, hypokaelaemia can result in VT or torsades.

9

What are the four main categories of causes of hypokalaemia?

Reduced GI absorption (e.g. poor PO intake)
Excess GI loss
Excess renal loss
Internal redistribution into intracellular space

10

What hormonal problems can cause hypokalaemia?

Excess aldosterone (primary aldoseronism), cortisol (Cushing's), and other mineralocorticoids.

These can block renal reabsorption of filtered potassium.

11

What drugs can cause hypokalaemia?

Cortisol and other mineralocorticoids.
- These can block renal reabsorption of filtered potassium.

Diuretics

Insulin

12

How significantly must a patient be suffering from poor intake to result in hypokalaemia?

Significant.

Kidneys can usually reabsorb all potassium, so intake must be extremely low for K levels to fall.

13

What might cause GI loss of K?

Vomiting
Diarrhoea (inc laxative abuse)

14

What might cause urinary loss of K?

Diuretics
Cortisol excess (blocks reabsorption of filtered K)
Polyuria (think DKA)
Hypomagnasemia

15

What electrolyte imbalance can in turn lead to hypokalaemia?

Hypomagnasemia (mechanism unknown)

16

What can cause internal redistrubtion of K into the intracellular space?

Insulin
Catecholamines
Alkalosis

17

How do you work up hypokalaemia, clinically?

1: History (vomiting, diarrhoea, polyuria, drugs)

2: Check Mg

3: Measure Urine K:Creatinine ratio, and assess acid-base balance

18

What does a low K to Creatinine ratio suggest?

Low intake
GI losses
Internal redistribution

19

What does a high K to Creatinine ratio suggest?

Renal losses

20

Will diarrhoea lead to a metabolic acidosis or alkalosis?

Diarrhoea causes acidosis.

(Diarrhoeal stool contains a higher concentration of bicarbonate than plasma, so losing it produces a net acidosis)

21

Will vomiting lead to a metabolic acidosis or alkalosis?

Vomiting causes alkalosis.

22

How do you treat hypokalaemia?

Replace K.

Treat underlying aetiology.

23

How do you replace K?

Orally (oral KCl)

IV (IV KCl)

24

What is the maximum dose of PO KCl?

40mmol 4-hourly.

25

What is the main side effect of PO KCl?

GI upset

26

What is the maximum replacement rate for IV KCl?

10mmol per hour

27

What is the main side effect of IV KCl?

Burning pain proximal to IV site

28

What should you bear in mind when replacing K intravenously?

All patients receiving IV KCl should be on continuous cardiac monitoring

29

What do you do about a hypokalaemic patient on diuretics?

Consider stopping diuresis as it may be cause of hypokalaemia.

If patient's diuresis cannot be stopped (essential treatment for CCF, for instance), consider switching to K-sparing diuretic.

30

Cutoff for:
- Mild hypokalaemia
- Moderate hypokalaemia
- Severe hypokalaemia

Mild: <3.5
Moderate: <3
Severe: <2.5