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Review of case reports on hyperkalemia induced by dietary intake: not restricted to chronic kidney disease patients

Abstract

Hyperkalemia is a metabolic disturbance of the potassium balance that can cause potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias. Kidney dysfunction and renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system inhibiting drugs are notorious for their tendency to induce hyperkalemia by decreasing the excretion of potassium. The role of dietary potassium intake in inducing hyperkalemia is less clear. We review and analyze the common presentation, laboratory, and electrocardiogram (ECG) findings and therapeutic options associated with dietary-induced hyperkalemia, and find evidence for hyperkalemia development in non-renal impaired patients. Thirty-five case reports including 44 incidences of oral intake-induced hyperkalemia were assessed, 17 patients did not suffer from kidney dysfunction. Mean age was 49 ± 20 years. Mean potassium concentration was 8.2 ± 1.4 mEq/l, most frequently caused by abundant intake of fruit and vegetables (n = 17) or salt substitutes (n = 12). In patients with normal kidney function, intake of salt substitutes or supplements was the main cause of hyperkalemia. Main symptoms encompassed muscle weakness (29.5%), vomiting (20.4%), and dyspnea (15.9%). When ECGs were performed (n = 30), abnormalities were present in 86.7% of cases. Treatment involved administration of insulin (n = 22), sodium/calcium polystyrene sulfonate (n = 14), and/or calcium gluconate (n = 14). Forty patients fully recovered. Three, non-renal impaired, patients passed away. These results offer insight into the clinical aspects of dietary-induced hyperkalemia and suggest that the common assumption that dietary-induced hyperkalemia is a condition of renal impaired patients might be incorrect.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Hiroki Takanari (Tokushima University Hospital, Tokushima, Japan) for his help in translating the Japanese case report.

Author contributions

Conceived, collected, analyzed data, wrote the manuscript: RPMtD, MTV, JH, VYHvW, and MAGvdH.

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Correspondence to Marcel A. G. van der Heyden.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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These authors contributed equally: Rogier PM te Dorsthorst, Jytte Hendrikse, Mats T Vervoorn, Valerie YH van Weperen.

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te Dorsthorst, R.P.M., Hendrikse, J., Vervoorn, M.T. et al. Review of case reports on hyperkalemia induced by dietary intake: not restricted to chronic kidney disease patients. Eur J Clin Nutr 73, 38–45 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-018-0154-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-018-0154-6

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