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Potassium is an element. It is easily secreted by the kidneys, and present in much of the food we eat. It is in body cells, and is necessary for many functions, including muscle contraction. The heart, being a muscle, is very sensitive to changes in potassium.

Most often, patients may have acute, and severely high potassium levels (hyperkalemia) without symptoms! Elevated potassium levels lead to ventricular fibrillation, a disturbance in the heart beat that can cause the heart to stop (cardiac arrest).

The best way to prevent hyperkalemia is to never miss a dialysis treatment, and to never cut the time short. Missing dialysis can put a patient at the risk of sudden death. Severe muscle cramps

and muscle stiffness are sometimes symptoms of acute hyperkalemia. The presence of these findings, particularly in one who has missed a dialysis treatment, is a medical emergency requiring immediate attention.


  1. Restrict the potassium in your diet by choosing foods low in potassium.
  2. Stay on dialysis the prescribed amount of time.
  3. Do not skip dialysis treatments.
  4. PreESRD patients should be aware of medications that raise potassium (ie NSAIDS, Spironolactone, CEI, beta blockers

Many foods contain potassium, but some have more than others./


Oranges Juice Mushrooms Spinach Cola drinks
Bananas Cereals Bran Broccoli Apricots
Grapefruit Soy tomatoes Avacadoes Potatoes

Protein foods are also high in potassium, but it is important for you to get the protein you need so the potassiums in these foods are included in your daily allowance.

Remember it’s up to you to control your potassium intake. You can keep this intake down by avoiding citrus fruit juices; try eating cereals with other fruit juices (apple, berry, peach), and limiting your intake of fruits and vegetables

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