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Diabetic ketoacidosis-induced hyperkalemia

Prevalence and possible origin

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We report the biochemical data of 22 hospital admissions because of untreated diabetic ketoacidosis. Fifty percent of admitted patients showed an initial serum potassium between 4.6 and 6.0 mEq/1 whereas severe hyperkalemia (value>6.1 mEq/l) occurred in 32%. Initial potassium levels show a slight negative correlation with pH but a stronger correlation (p<0.001) was found between the initial serum potassium and glucose values. We suggest that hyperglycemia due to insulinopenia must be one of the factors in the pathogenesis of this hyperkalemia.

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Van Gaal, L.F., De Leeuw, I.H. & Bekaert, J.L. Diabetic ketoacidosis-induced hyperkalemia. Intensive Care Med 12, 416–418 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00254673

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Key words

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Hyperkalemia
  • Hyperglycemia