Management of hyperkalaemia consequent to mineralocorticoid-receptor antagonist therapy

Nat Rev Nephrol. 2012 Dec;8(12):691-9. doi: 10.1038/nrneph.2012.217. Epub 2012 Oct 16.


Mineralocorticoid-receptor antagonists (MRAs) reduce blood pressure and albuminuria in patients treated with angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin-II-receptor blockers. The use of MRAs, however, is limited by the occurrence of hyperkalaemia, which frequently occurs in patients older than 65 years with impaired kidney function, and/or diabetes. Patients with these characteristics might still benefit from MRA therapy, however, and should not be excluded from this treatment option. This limitation raises the question of how to optimize the therapeutic use of MRAs in this population of patients. Understanding the individual variability in patients' responses to MRAs, in terms of albuminuria, blood pressure and serum potassium levels, might lead to targeted intervention. MRA use might be restricted to patients with high levels of mineralocorticoid activity, evaluated by circulating renin and aldosterone levels or renal excretion of potassium. In addition, reviewing the patient's diet and concomitant medications might prove useful in reducing the risk of developing subsequent hyperkalaemia. If hyperkalaemia does develop, treatment options exist to decrease potassium levels, including administration of calcium gluconate, insulin, β(2)-agonists, diuretics and cation-exchange resins. In combination with novel aldosterone blockers, these strategies might offer a rationale with which to optimize therapeutic intervention and extend the population of patients who can benefit from use of MRAs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Albuminuria / drug therapy
  • Albuminuria / epidemiology
  • Diuretics / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hyperkalemia / chemically induced*
  • Hyperkalemia / drug therapy*
  • Hyperkalemia / epidemiology
  • Hypertension, Renal / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension, Renal / epidemiology
  • Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors


  • Diuretics
  • Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists