Dr. Adam Singer and colleagues report in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine that quickly correcting high potassium levels — a condition known as hyperkalemia — in emergency department patients cut mortality in that population by half. In the study, Singer, professor and vice chair of research for the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Renaissance School of Medicine, and colleagues, reviewed nearly 115,000 Stony Brook University Hospital Emergency Department visits during 2016 and 2017, finding the mortality rate was significantly reduced in this patient cohort (6.3% vs. 12.7%).
Millions of patients suffering with diabetes, heart failure, hypertension and renal failure are at an increased risk for hyperkalemia. Many therapies to treat these conditions may also increase potassium levels.
“Because of the increasing risk of hyperkalemia in this population, it is important, as our study showed, to develop protocols that help quickly identify and correct hyperkalemia while the patient is still in the emergency department,” said Dr. Singer.