February 2, 2015

Background: Hyperkalemia is the most common electrolyte disorder seen in the Emergency Department and treatment of hyperkalemia is core knowledge of EM training for interns and focuses on:
1) Stabilization of cardiac myocytes with calcium salts
2) Temporary shifting of potassium into cells (insulin, beta agonists, normal saline,
      magnesium, sodium bicarbonate)
3) Removal of potassium from the body (i.e. loop diuretics, cathartics)
4) Definitive Treatment (i.e. Hemodyalisis)
Although there is still some debate on the first two areas (i.e. is there truly a role for sodium bicarbonate?) our focus will be on the removal part of the algorithm, specifically, is there a role for kayexalate?

April 17, 2014

Hyperkalemia is an electrolyte abnormality seen in the emergency department as well as in hospitalized patients and it can be associated with adverse clinical outcomes and death if not treated appropriately. It is important to remember that the electrophysiologic effects of hyperkalemia are directly proportional to both the absolute plasma potassium and its rate of rise. However, neither the ECG nor the plasma potassium alone are an adequate index of the severity of hyperkalemia, and therefore providers should have a low threshold to initiate therapy. Classic teaching of the chronological ECG changes of hyperkalemia include:
  1. Peaked T waves
  2. Prolongation of PR interval
  3. Widening QRS Complex
  4. Loss of P wave
  5. "Sine Wave"
  6. Asystole