Hypokalemia natural history

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Cafer Zorkun, M.D., Ph.D. [2] Aida Javanbakht, M.D.

Overview

If left untreated, hypokalemia may present as nausea, vomiting that progresses to develop ileus, muscle cramps, rhabdomyolysis and polyuria leading to dehydration. Persistent hypokalemia may lead to ventricular ectopy. Complications of hypokalemia include paralysis, arrhythmias, rhabdomyolysis and ileus. Prognosis of hypokalemia depends upon the underlying condition.

Natural History

If left untreated, hypokalemia may present as nausea, vomiting that progresses to develop ileus, muscle cramps, rhabdomyolysis and polyuria leading to dehydration. Persistently low serum potassium levels may lead to EKG changes for example, ventricular ectopy (Premature ventricular contractions, ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, U waves, prolonged QT interval).

Complications

Possible complications include [1]:

Prognosis

The prognosis depends on underlying condition that cause hypokalemia. Potassium supplements may correct the problem. In severe cases, without proper treatment a severe drop in potassium levels can lead to serious heart rhythm problems that can be fatal.

References

  1. Bach PT, Raaber N (September 2014). "[Rhabdomyolysis caused by thiazid-induced hypokalaemia]". Ugeskr. Laeg. (in Danish). 176 (38). PMID 25294212.