The heart and potassium: a banana republic

Acute Card Care. 2013 Mar;15(1):17-24. doi: 10.3109/17482941.2012.741250.


The importance of potassium in maintaining stable cardiac function is a clinically understood phenomenon. Physiologically the importance of potassium in cardiac function is described by the large number of different kinds of potassium ions channels found in the heart compared to channels and membrane transport mechanisms for other ions such as sodium and calcium. Potassium is important in physiological homeostatic control of cardiac function, but is also of relevance to the diseased state, as potassium-related effects may stabilize or destabilize cardiac function. This article aims to provide a detailed understanding of potassium-mediated cardiac function. This will help the clinical practitioner evaluate how modulation of potassium ion channels by disease and pharmacological manipulation affect the cardiac patient, thus aiding in decision making when faced with clinical problems related to potassium.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Heart / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hyperkalemia / physiopathology
  • Hypokalemia / physiopathology
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Potassium / physiology*


  • Ion Channels
  • Potassium