Importance of early electrocardiographic recognition and timely management of hyperkalemia in geriatric patients

Exp Clin Cardiol. Summer 2011;16(2):47-50.

Abstract

Hyperkalemia is a potentially life-threatening electrolyte imbalance that can be difficult to diagnose due to the paucity of specific signs and symptoms. Because hyperkalemia can lead to sudden death from cardiac arrhythmias and asystole, any patient whose history, physical examination or laboratory studies raise clinical suspicion of hyperkalemia requires an immediate 12-lead electrocardiogram to ascertain whether electrocardiographic manifestations of electrolyte imbalance are present. The current report describes a case involving an elderly man who developed hyperkalemia secondary to acute-on-chronic kidney injury. Factors affecting the vulnerability of geriatric patients to hyperkalemia, the electrocardiographic manifestations of elevated serum potassium levels, and the importance of timely recognition and management are discussed. Understanding the factors that contribute to hyperkalemia, timely recognition of electrocardiogram changes and timely initiation of appropriate therapy are all critical in the approach to hyperkalemia in the geriatric patient.

Keywords: Dialysis; Electrocardiography; Geriatrics; Hyperkalemia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports