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:
- Acute kidney failure
- Chronic kidney disease
Other causes of hyperkalemia include:
- Addison's disease (adrenal insufficiency)
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Beta blockers
- Destruction of red blood cells due to severe injury or burns
- Excessive use of potassium supplements
- 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.
Nov. 14, 2020
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- What is hyperkalemia? National Kidney Foundation. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/what-hyperkalemia. Accessed Oct. 4, 2017.
- Potassium, serum. Mayo Medical Laboratories. https://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/81390.%20Accessed%20Oct.%201. Accessed Oct. 4, 2017.
- Potassium. American Association for Clinical Chemistry. https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/potassium/tab/test/. Accessed Oct. 4, 2017.
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- Hyperkalemia. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/electrolyte-disorders/hyperkalemia. Accessed Oct. 4, 2017.
- Wilkinson JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 11, 2017.