Often a report of high blood potassium isn't true hyperkalemia. Instead, it may be caused by the rupture of blood cells in the blood sample during or shortly after the blood draw. The ruptured cells leak their potassium into the sample. This falsely raises the amount of potassium in the blood sample, even though the potassium level in your body is actually normal. When this is suspected, a repeat blood sample is done.

The most common cause of genuinely high potassium (hyperkalemia) is related to your kidneys, such as:

  1. Acute kidney failure
  2. Chronic kidney disease

Other causes of hyperkalemia include:

  1. Addison's disease (adrenal insufficiency)
  2. Angiotensin II receptor blockers
  3. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  4. Beta blockers
  5. Dehydration
  6. Destruction of red blood cells due to severe injury or burns
  7. Excessive use of potassium supplements
  8. Type 1 diabetes

Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Get the latest health information from Mayo Clinic’s experts.

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Nov. 14, 2020