Hyperkalemia is higher-than-normal levels of potassium in the blood.
Hyperkalemia; Potassium - high
The kidneys normally remove excess potassium from the body. High potassium levels are more likely to occur when the kidneys are not working properly and are less able to get rid of potassium.
If your kidneys are not working well enough, taking extra potassium (for example from using salt substitutes that contain potassium or taking potassium supplements prescribed by your health care provider) could lead to problems.
Certain medicines may cause potassium levels to build up because of their affect on the kidneys, including water pills (diuretics) and blood pressure medicines.
Any time potassium is released from the cells, it may build up in body fluids, including the bloodstream. Acidosis leads to the movement of potassium from inside the cells to the fluid outside the cells. Such injury includes:
Burns over large areas of the body
Damage to muscle and other cells from drugs, alcohol abuse, coma, surgery, injury, or certain infections
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.