A blood test revealed low potassium. What is the dangerous effect of low potassium in the blood? Is medication necessary for this condition?

Thank you for your wisdom.

2 Answers 2


Low potassium is on average below 3.5 and is termed hypokalemia. Signs and symptoms:

Weakness Fatigue Muscle cramps Constipation

Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) are the most worrisome complication of very low potassium levels, particularly in people with underlying heart disease.

Severely low potassium can result in death.


Medication, surgery and diet can be used to treat hypokalemia. However. Medications are not always use s to treat unless you consider potassium supplement. Treatment depends on cause, as well.


Usually, oral potassium chloride is administered when potassium levels need to be replenished, as well as, in patients with ongoing potassium loss (eg, those on thiazide diuretics), when it must be maintained. Potassium-sparing diuretics are generally used only in patients with normal renal function who are prone to significant hypokalemia.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which inhibit renal potassium excretion, can ameliorate some of the hypokalemia that thiazide and loop diuretics can cause. However, ACE inhibitors can lead to lethal hyperkalemia in patients with renal insufficiency who are taking potassium supplements or potassium-sparing diuretics.

Surgical care

Generally, hypokalemia is a medical, not a surgical, condition. Surgical intervention is required only with certain etiologies, such as the following:

Renal artery stenosis Adrenal adenoma Intestinal obstruction producing massive vomiting Villous adenoma Decreasing Potassium Losses Measures to identify and stop ongoing losses of potassium include the following:

Discontinue diuretics/laxatives Use potassium-sparing diuretics if diuretic therapy is required (eg, severe heart failure) Treat diarrhea or vomiting Administer H2 blockers to patients receiving nasogastric suction Control hyperglycemia if glycosuria is present

Because of the risk associated with potassium replacement, alleviation of the cause of hypokalemia may be preferable to treatment, especially if hypokalemia is mild, asymptomatic, or transient and is likely to resolve without treatment. For example, patients with vomiting who are successfully treated with antiemetics may not require potassium replacement.

Replenishment of Potassium Replenishment of potassium is the second treatment step. For every 1 mEq/L decrease in serum potassium, the potassium deficit is approximately 200-400 mEq.

Bear in mind, however, that many factors in addition to the total body potassium stores contribute to the serum potassium concentration. Therefore, this calculation could either overestimate or underestimate the true potassium deficit. For example, do not overcorrect potassium in patients with periodic hypokalemic paralysis. This condition is caused by transcellular maldistribution, not by a true deficit.

Patients who have mild or moderate hypokalemia (potassium level of 2.5-3.5 mEq/L) are usually asymptomatic; if these patients have only minor symptoms, they may need only oral potassium replacement therapy. If cardiac arrhythmias or significant symptoms are present, then more aggressive therapy is warranted. This treatment is similar to the treatment of severe hypokalemia.

If the potassium level is less than 2.5 mEq/L, intravenous potassium should be given. Maintain close follow-up care, provide continuous ECG monitoring, and check serial potassium levels.

Higher dosages may increase the risk of cardiac complications. Many institutions have policies that limit the maximum amount of potassium that can be given per hour. Hospital admission or observation in the emergency department is indicated; replacement therapy takes more than a few hours.

The serum potassium level is difficult to replenish if the serum magnesium level is also low. Look to replace both.

Oral potassium is absorbed readily, and relatively large doses can be given safely. Oral administration is limited by patient tolerance because some individuals develop nausea or even gastrointestinal ulceration with enteral potassium formulations.

Intravenous potassium, which is less well tolerated because it can be highly irritating to veins, can be given only in relatively small doses, generally 10 mEq/h. Under close cardiac supervision in emergent circumstances, as much as 40 mEq/h can be administered through a central line. Oral and parenteral potassium can safely be used simultaneously.

Take ongoing potassium losses into consideration by measuring the volume and potassium concentration of body fluid losses. If the patient is severely hypokalemic, avoid glucose-containing parenteral fluids to prevent an insulin-induced shift of potassium into the cells. If the patient is acidotic, correct the potassium first to prevent an alkali-induced shift of potassium into the cells.


Low potassium in blood is a condition called hypokalemia. Your doctor can possibly recommend you potassium intake.

The Wikipedia article about it is fairly well documented.

  • Welcome to Stack Exchange. Your post does not appear to answer all parts of the question. Thanks!
    – Pobrecita
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 17:25

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