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Potassium

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3.1
ISO, NABH
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Overview
Interpreting Results
FAQ's
Potassium

Overview of K+

What is K+?

Potassium (‎K+) is both a mineral and an electrolyte, which regulates several body activities like metabolism and neuromuscular functioning. It helps in the transmission of nerve impulses to the muscles. The Potassium Test is performed to measure the concentration of potassium in the blood.

Why is K+ done?

The Potassium Test is performed:

·         As a part of regular health checkup to measure potassium levels in the blood

·         As part of the checkup to diagnose kidney diseases

·         Upon the appearance of symptoms indicating neuromuscular conditions like muscular weakness, irregular heartbeats or cardiac arrhythmia, etc.

·         At regular intervals to monitor the progress of condition and treatment efficacy while undergoing treatment for hypertension, kidney diseases, and metabolic acidosis

·         To monitor patients who are receiving diuretic therapy, intravenous fluids, or dialysis


What does K+ Measure?

The Potassium Test measures the concentration of potassium in the blood.

Potassium is one of the essential body electrolytes along with sodium, chloride, bicarbonate, etc. As an electrolyte, potassium helps to regulate the amount of fluids present in the body and to maintain a correct pH balance. It performs a vital role in cellular metabolism and transport of nutrients and waste products in and out of cells. It is also essential in the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles and muscle activity.

Sufficient amount of potassium required by the body is absorbed from dietary sources, and the remaining unabsorbed potassium is excreted by the kidneys. Body potassium is maintained within a small normal range principally by the hormone aldosterone. Aldosterone acts on the nephrons in the kidneys and activates a sodium-potassium pump which helps the body to reabsorb sodium and excrete potassium. This helps to maintain the potassium concentration in the blood within its normal range. Deviation of potassium concentration from its normal range gives rise to Hyperkalemia (high potassium level in blood), or Hypokalemia (low potassium level in blood). Both these conditions may produce a number of symptoms, and may even be fatal if not controlled.

Preparation for K+

  • No special preparation required

Sample Type for K+

The sample type collected for Potassium is: Blood

Interpreting K+ results

Interpretations

Normal range: 3.5 to 5.0mmol/L (136.5 to 195μg/ml approx.)

Hypokalemia: Below 3.5mmol/L (Less than 136.5μg/ml approx.)

Hyperkalemia: Above 5.0mmol/L (Above 195μg/ml approx.)

Potassium concentration in the body is maintained within a narrow normal range between 3.5mmol/L and 5.0mmol/L.

Hypokalemia or low blood potassium is indicated if potassium concentration lies below the normal range.

Hyperkalemia or high blood potassium is indicated if potassium concentration lies above the normal range.



Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about K+

Frequently Asked Questions about Potassium

Q. How is this test performed?
This test is performed on a blood sample. A syringe with a fine needle is used to withdraw blood sample from a blood vessel in your arm generally from the inner side of the elbow area. The doctor, nurse or the phlebotomist will tie an elastic band around your arm which will help the blood vessels to swell with blood. This makes it easier to withdraw blood. You may be asked to tightly clench your fist. Once the veins are clearly visible, the area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then the needle is inserted into the blood vessel to collect the sample. You may feel a tiny pinprick during the procedure. Blood sample once collected is then sent to the laboratory.
Q. Is there any risk associated with this test?
There is no risk associated with the test. However, since this test involves a needle prick to withdraw the blood sample, in very rare cases, a patient may experience increased bleeding, hematoma formation (blood collection under the skin), bruising or infection at the site of needle prick.
Q. Is there any preparation required before the test?
Inform the doctor about the medications you may be taking. No other specific preparations are usually required before this test.
Q. What is Hypokalemia?
Hypokalemia is a condition where the blood potassium levels are below the normal range. This may occur due to: · Low dietary potassium · Chronic vomiting and diarrhea · Kidney diseases · Hyperaldosteronism or excess production of hormone aldosterone · Acetaminophen overdose · Insulin in diabetics, especially if the condition is poorly managed · Eating disorders like anorexia · Diuretic therapy · Certain medications like corticosteroids, some antibiotic and antifungal agents, and laxatives · Cushing’s syndrome
Q. What are the symptoms of Hypokalemia?
Symptoms of Hypokalemia include: · Fatigue · Palpitations · A tingling sensation or feeling of numbness · Constipation · Muscle weakness or spasms which may lead to muscle damage · Feeling lightheaded or dizzy · Irregular heartbeat or cardiac arrhythmia
Q. What is Hyperkalemia?
Hyperkalemia is the condition where blood potassium levels rise higher than the normal range. This may occur due to: · Kidney disease · Addison’s disease · Extensive tissue injury resulting in muscle fiber breakdown and destruction of red blood cells · Infection · Diabetes Type 1 · Dehydration · Consumption of excess dietary potassium or potassium supplements · Respiratory and metabolic acidosis · Hypoaldosteronism or reduced production or activity of hormone aldosterone · Excess potassium in intravenous fluid · Certain medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), and some diuretics
Q. What are the symptoms of Hyperkalemia?
Symptoms of Hyperkalemia include: · Chest pain · Difficulty in breathing · Palpitations · Irregular heartbeat · Nausea and vomiting · Irregular or weak pulse · Stopping of heartbeat
Q. When can false results appear in the Potassium Test?
False results may appear in the potassium test due to improper collection and handling of the blood specimen. If you clench and relax your fist too much during specimen collection, it will cause an elevated potassium level in your blood sample. Rough handling of the collected specimen or delay of the specimen in reaching the lab may cause potassium to leak out of the blood cells into the serum which will show a falsely increased levels.
Q. What other tests can be prescribed by your doctor in case the Potassium test result is not normal?
Others tests that may be prescribed upon appearance of an abnormal result in the blood potassium test include: · Urine Potassium Test · Electrolyte Panel Test · Kidney Function Test (KFT) · Electrocardiogram (ECG)
Q. Which food items are good source of potassium?
Dietary sources form the principal source of potassium. Some very commonly available food items rich in potassium are: · Bananas · Sweet potato · Tomato · Watermelon · Spinach · Beans · Lentils · Beets · Low fat milk · Yogurt
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