What is K+?
A potassium test is used to measure the amount of potassium, an electrolyte that is vital for proper muscle and nerve function, in blood. It helps control your body’s fluid levels and acid-base balance. This test is usually performed if you have the following symptoms including irregular heartbeat, twitches, and muscle weakness.
Too much potassium in the blood, known as hyperkalemia, is a sign that the kidneys are not properly filtering excess potassium from the blood for excretion through urine. Too little potassium in the blood, known as hypokalemia, can happen if you are taking diuretics for lowering your blood pressure or for treating other health conditions.
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.
Interpreting K+ results
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