Who is at Risk for a High Potassium Diet?

Are you thinking about one of the new fad weight loss diets? Most of the ten most popular fad diets emphasize the importance of high potassium foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. But you should know the risks of a diet rich in potassium before embarking on a new food regimen. High blood potassium (known as hyperkalemia) can cause muscle weakness, heart arrhythmias, and, in extreme, it can cause death.

Who is at risk for high potassium diet?

  1. Patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) are most at risk. The kidney is important in balancing the amount of potassium in your blood, and when kidney function declines, blood potassium levels may rise. This is especially true with advanced stages of CKD, such as Stage 4 and 5. If you have CKD, you should discuss dietary changes with your dietitian or your physician.
  2. Patients with chronic kidney disease also have a high risk for heart disease, and patients with heart disease are at an increased risk for high potassium. Patients with heart disease and CKD are both treated with drugs such as ACE inhibitors, ARB agents and mineralocorticoid receptor blockers (such as spironolactone). These drugs have been shown to improve outcomes in patients with heart disease, CKD and high blood pressure, but they also have side effects that include high potassium in the blood.
  3. If you have diabetes, you may be at risk for high potassium. People with diabetes have an increased risk of kidney disease but can also have problems eliminating potassium and/or acid from the blood, which leads to hyperkalemia. Poor control of your diabetes increases your risk of hyperkalemia.

There are other drugs that can cause hyperkalemia, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s such as Motrin, Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve, Naprosyn, and Naproxen). Other drugs such as certain antibiotics, potassium sparing diuretics, blood pressure drugs and chemotherapy drugs that may also cause hyperkalemia. If you are contemplating a new diet, you may need to have your physician or dietitian review your current medications and determine if you are at risk for hyperkalemia.

I will be moderating a Facebook Live event on Friday, September 29, 2017 at 2pm ET that will discuss hyperkalemia. See the event and save the date.

You can also learn more about kidney disease on the National Kidney Foundation website at www.kidney.org

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