The burden of hyperkalemia in patients with cardiovascular and renal disease

Am J Manag Care. 2015 Nov;21(15 Suppl):s307-15.


Hyperkalemia is a potentially serious condition that can result in life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias and is associated with an increased mortality risk. Patients older than 65 years who have an advanced stage of chronic kidney disease (stage 3 or higher), diabetes, and/or chronic heart failure are at higher risk for hyperkalemia. To reduce disease progression and improve outcomes in these groups of patients, modulation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) is recommended by guidelines. One limiting factor of RAAS inhibitors at proven doses is the increased risk for hyperkalemia associated with their use. Although there are effective therapeutic options for the short-term, acute management of hyperkalemia, the available strategies for chronic control of high potassium levels have limited effectiveness. The management of high potassium in the long term often requires withdrawing or reducing the doses of drugs proven to reduce cardiovascular and renal outcomes (eg, RAAS inhibitors) or implementing excessive and often intolerable dietary restrictions. Furthermore, withholding RAAS inhibitors may lead to incremental healthcare costs associated with poor outcomes, such as end-stage renal disease, hospitalizations due to cardiovascular causes, and cardiovascular mortality. As such, there is an important unmet need for novel therapeutic options for the chronic management of patients at risk for hyperkalemia. Potential therapies in development may change the treatment landscape in the near future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hyperkalemia / diagnosis
  • Hyperkalemia / mortality
  • Hyperkalemia / therapy*
  • Male
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / mortality
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome