Can too much potas­sium be harm­ful?

Times of Oman - - LIFESTYLE -


with chronic ill­nesses, nu­tri­tion is im­por­tant — but some nu­tri­ents present risks for cer­tain pa­tients. Potas­sium, for ex­am­ple, has many ben­e­fits, but can be fa­tal for peo­ple with kid­ney dis­ease if the level of potas­sium in their blood spikes. In the United States, there are more than three mil­lion pa­tients who are liv­ing with hy­per­kalemia — a con­di­tion that refers to hav­ing ab­nor­mally high blood potas­sium lev­els. As the num­ber of peo­ple with th­ese dis­eases is ex­pected to climb, so too are the num­ber of peo­ple at risk for hy­per­kalemia.

A sur­vey from the Na­tional Kid­ney Foun­da­tion in the US found that 50 per­cent of chronic kid­ney dis­ease (CKD) pa­tients — who are at risk for hy­per­kalemia — said that high potas­sium were their most im­por­tant health con­cern. How­ever, while some re­spon­dents were aware of the con­di­tion, the same sur­vey found that 80 per­cent of re­spon­dents did not know what their potas­sium level was. The im­por­tance of potas­sium lev­els.

Potas­sium is an elec­trolyte that is nec­es­sary for the heart to func­tion. In nor­mal cases, the potas­sium level in a per­son’s blood is main­tained via diet and any ex­cess potas­sium is re­moved through the kid­neys. How­ever, when the kid­neys are not func­tion­ing prop­erly, and ex­cess potas­sium is not re­moved as nor­mal, this ad­di­tional potas­sium can cause ab­nor­mal heart rhythms and, in some cases, even sud­den death. Con­trol­ling potas­sium through diet and other so­lu­tions.

For pa­tients with hy­per­kalemia, con­trol­ling potas­sium lev­els re­quires spe­cial at­ten­tion to one’s diet. While most peo­ple do not re­quire a com­plete over­haul of their di­ets, some pop­u­lar foods such as ba­nanas, mel­ons, or­anges and other high­potas­sium foods may need to be re­placed with low-potas­sium foods such as ap­ples, grapes and berries. Lim­it­ing milk and/or yo­ghurt in­take is also com­mon­place, as both are high in potas­sium. Such di­etary changes are an im­por­tant com­po­nent of man­ag­ing chronic con­di­tions. If you think you might need a change, it is al­ways best to con­sult a doc­tor who can help de­velop a plan that’s right for you. Here are some other ways to lower potas­sium in­take and po­ten­tially lower potas­sium lev­els:

*Be wary of salt sub­sti­tutes. While salt sub­sti­tutes have their ap­peal, some have very high lev­els of potas­sium. Be­fore us­ing such a sub­sti­tute in meal prepa­ra­tion, it is im­por­tant to thor­oughly read the la­bel.

*Var­i­ous treat­ment op­tions ex­ist. Doc­tors can speak with you about po­ten­tial treat­ments for hy­per­kalemia, which in­clude wa­ter pills and medicines known as potas­sium binders. Only your doc­tor will know the best choice for you.

*Avoid sup­ple­ments and reme­dies. Many herbal reme­dies or sup­ple­ments can ac­tu­ally cre­ate more prob­lems be­cause of their high potas­sium con­tent. Pa­tients should con­sult their doc­tor be­fore tak­ing any sup­ple­ment or rem­edy to learn more about how it could im­pact their potas­sium lev­els.

*Never stop learn­ing. Whether you have lived with hy­per­kalemia for years, or you’re con­cerned be­cause you have a chronic con­di­tion, mon­i­tor­ing potas­sium lev­els is an im­por­tant part of keep­ing your­self healthy. It’s a big task, but for­tu­nately you don’t have to face it alone. Healthy choices and con­sis­tent com­mu­ni­ca­tion with health­care pro­fes­sion­als can help you keep track of potas­sium lev­els and main­tain a healthy life. Be proac­tive and take charge of your health — talk to your doc­tor to­day.

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