<< Evidence-Based Management of Potassium Disorders in the Emergency Department (Pharmacology CME)

Etiologies Of Hypokalemia

Hypokalemia is a condition referring to the depletion of serum potassium < 3.5 mEq/L, and is characterized as being either mild, moderate, or severe.(See Table 1.) Hypokalemia is one of the most common electrolyte abnormalities, with a prevalence of up to 21% in hospitalized patients.3-5 In an observational cohort study of almost 12,000 patients, hypokalemia was associated with increased mortality in patients admitted without severe heart or renal disease.Although excessive loss is the most common etiology for hypokalemia, inadequate potassium intake and transcellular shifts of potassium can also be causes of hypokalemia.

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