Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cardiovascular Patients Taking Certain Medications Need Close Monitoring To Guard Against Dangerously High Potassium Levels

Date:
August 17, 2004
Source:
University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas
Summary:
Some patients with hypertension or other cardiovascular diseases should be closely monitored in order to maintain safe potassium levels in the body when prescribed certain medications, counsels a nephrologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

DALLAS (Aug. 10, 2004) -- Some patients with hypertension or other cardiovascular diseases should be closely monitored in order to maintain safe potassium levels in the body when prescribed certain medications, counsels a nephrologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers are commonly used to treat hypertension and decrease cardiovascular problems in high-risk patients. A side effect to these therapeutics is hyperkalemia, or higher than normal levels of potassium in the bloodstream.

"Because a third to half of patients with congestive heart failure have kidney complications, a large proportion of patients being treated with ACE inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers are at increased risk for hyperkalemia," said Dr. Biff Palmer, professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern, in a review article in the Aug. 5 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The balance of potassium between cells and the blood is critical. Potassium affects the way cell membranes work and governs the action of the heart and pathways between the brain and muscles. The development of hyperkalemia is a potentially life-threatening complication because it can disrupt the heart's normal rhythm.

Potassium is primarily excreted by the kidneys. However, the levels can become elevated if the kidneys are not functioning properly or if damaged cells release potassium into the bloodstream faster than the kidneys can remove it.

Hyperkalemia has been linked to the use of ACE inhibitors in 10 percent to 38 percent of hospitalized patients with hypertension or other cardiovascular diseases, and it develops in about 10 percent of outpatients within a year of these drugs being prescribed. Patients at greatest risk include those with diabetes and those with impaired kidney function who may already have complications in excreting potassium.

Dr. Palmer said it is important for physicians to identify patients at risk for hyperkalemia and implement corresponding measures when using these drugs.

"The patient's medication profile should be reviewed and drugs discontinued that impair excretion of potassium in the kidney, such as over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen," he said. "Patients should be asked about the use of herbal remedies, as herbs can be a hidden source of potassium."

Also, a low-potassium diet - avoiding orange juice, melons, bananas and salt substitutes with potassium - should be prescribed. If treatment with an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin-receptor blocker is needed, it is best to begin with low doses, Dr. Palmer said. Implementing these measures will allow patients at increased risk for hyperkalemia to enjoy the cardiovascular benefits of these drugs rather than unnecessarily being labeled intolerant as a result of the disorder.

The review article, intended as a guide for physicians, accompanies a study by researchers from the University of Toronto and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto. The study documents a multifold increase in the incidence of hyperkalemia in congestive heart patients following the publication of a trial in 1999 that reported use of an aldosterone-receptor blocker and an ACE inhibitor together reduces death rates in such patients.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas. "Cardiovascular Patients Taking Certain Medications Need Close Monitoring To Guard Against Dangerously High Potassium Levels." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 August 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040812052709.htm>.
University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas. (2004, August 17). Cardiovascular Patients Taking Certain Medications Need Close Monitoring To Guard Against Dangerously High Potassium Levels. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040812052709.htm
University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center At Dallas. "Cardiovascular Patients Taking Certain Medications Need Close Monitoring To Guard Against Dangerously High Potassium Levels." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040812052709.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — Conjoined twins Emmett and Owen Ezell were separated by doctors in August. Now, nearly nine months later, they're being released from the hospital. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) — The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins