I have had a blood test with high potassium

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I am a little concerned about my last two blood tests as my potassium levels are a little high but my GFR for kidneys was 79 which they say is normal.

I went to the doctor on Friday last week because I was having wheezing after a hard work out on Monday and I started to get a sore spot on my right chest so the doctor sent me for an EKG, blood, and xray and they all were normal except the Friday blood test had my potassium at 5.4 so the doctor called me yesterday and said everything was normal except my potassium and then she asked me if I'm taking any supplements to which I replied no except a men's vitamin called Active X and 4000 IUs of vit D. She said it could be a false positive so sent me for another blood test and it came back at 5.0. Now 5.0 is considered normal but it is at the threshold of high, and I'm a little worried because I had this happen a couple of years ago and the doctor at that time said it happens all the time because of how they handle the blood sample so he sent me back for a repeat a day later and I was normal, but this time it is high normal.

My GFR was 79 and blood pressure was excellent. I am 44 male and work out 4-5 days per week, and am healthy although my diet could be better. I like my beers on the weekend and I am trying to get to my goal weight of 170 lbs to which I am currently 188 lbs.

Does anyone have experience with this?

Thank you,

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2 Replies

  • Posted

    No experience, just a lot of knowledge. There are 4 main things that can lead to an unacceptably high serum potassium level. 1. Kidney failure. Responsible for around 65% of all hyperkalemia instances. Your GFR rules that out. Like outta the park out. Next, 2. Drugs, mostly inpatient quality diuretics and ACE inhibitors, if you need 'em, you'll know what they are. These instances usually resolve with time on the drug, and mostly aren't too severe. 3. Mass tissue destruction: Getting beaten to a pulp, hit by lightning, burned, or crushed by a building. These involve death of skeletal muscle cells on a massive scale. Rare but the most severe. You'd think the damage itself would be the problem here but ironically it IS the rise in serum potassium that winds up endangering the lives of these patients. 4, Actual potassium. Steer clear of NuSalt and other sodium alternatives.

    In the body, each cell is like a pool of potassium. When that cell wants to do something, like move, it has to release some of its contents into its surroundings. So serum potassium goes up slightly. If something comes along and bursts the cell, ALL of its contents get released and potassium goes up A LOT.

    Potassium levels can rise within the ACCEPTABLE range due to strenuous physical activity, losing weight, eating particular foods, especially ones you aren't used to. Even adding more vegetables can increase your intake. A full body massage also releases potassium, which is why a water bottle is recommended as take-along. But, in these cases, as long as your kidneys are functioning well, there is no need to panic. It will come back down fast enough to keep you healthy.

    I'm guessing your active lifestyle means you'll have slightly higher potassium than average, and that's okay. If it really concerns you, a small mug of licorice tea 2-3 times a week can help (Don't overdo it though, hypokalemia isn't good either)

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    • Posted

      Thanks Darkhorse! I do High Intensity Interval Training 4-5 days per week and it is intense. I have also been taking Gaviscon a bunch over the last while due to acid reflux and I read that can bump it up so I stopped taking it. I ad been eating a banana per day during this time as well.

      The Cr. didn't care so I guess I should believe her.

      Thanks again for your in depth response as it put my mind at ease.

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