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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 38  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 25-29

Life threatening hyperkalemia necessitating temporary cardiac pacing and dialysis in elderly patients

1 Department of Cardiology, SKIMS, Soura, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India
2 Department of Medicine, SKIMS Medical College, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India
3 Department of Anesthesiology, SKIMS, Soura, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India
4 Department of Nephrology, SKIMS, Soura, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Muzafar M Wani
Nik-Nax, 6 Polo-View, Srinagar, Kashmir - 190 001, Jammu and Kashmir
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IOPD.IOPD_6_19

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Background Many elderly hypertensive patients are on cardio/reno protective medications (ACEIs, ARBs, β blockers & K sparing diuretics), which may precipitate or worsen hyperkalemia in them. Given its potential life threatening nature, identifying such patients is imperative. Rarely emergency temporary cardiac pacing may be required to thwart cardiac arrest while K is being lowered by extracorporeal removal. In many resource-constrained settings HD to lower K quickly is not always available. Materials and Methods We describe the profile of 26 patients over a three year period who besides medications & dialysis needed temporary cardiac pacing because of severe hyperkalemia. Results: The mean age of these 26 patients (17 males, 9 females) was 64+/-11 years. 12 (46%) had diabetes mellitus. On admission, the mean serum K was 6.7 ± 1.4 mmol/L, mean serum creatinine was 2.8 ± 1.6 mg/dL, mean arterial pH was 7.1 ± 0.5 and the mean plasma bicarbonate was 12 ± 4 mmol/L. The main causes for acute kidney injury (AKI) and hyperkalemia were dehydration (n = 14) and worsening heart failure (n = 7) with concomitant use of ACEIs, ARBs, β blockers, K sparing diuretics either alone or in combination. 22 patients received PD, two HD, while two received both. Six patients were admitted to the ICU, two of whom died. The duration of hospitalization ranged from 1-12 with a mean of 7 days. The patients in the drug induced hyperkalemia group who required pacing were elderly, had been on a combination of K elevating medications, were more likely to have DM and had a longer hospital stay compared to those who had hyperkalemia but did not require cardiac pacing. Conclusion: A combination of ACEIs, ARBs, β blockers & K sparing diuretics should be used with caution in patients who are elderly, have renal insufficiency, DM or heart failure or are at risk for dehydration. In places with limited availability of emergency HD, PD is an effective alternative for lowering serum K.

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