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Potassium supplements, salt substitutes that contain potassium and other medications can cause hyperkalemia.

In normal individuals, healthy kidneys can adapt to excessive oral intake of potassium by increasing urine excretion of potassium, thus preventing the development of hyperkalemia. However, taking in too much potassium (either through foods, supplements, or salt substitutes containing potassium) can cause hyperkalemia if there is kidney dysfunction or if the patient is taking medications that decrease urine potassium excretion such as ACE inhibitors and potassium-sparing diuretics.

Examples of medications that decrease urine potassium excretion include:

  • ACE inhibitors,
  • ARBs,
  • NSAIDs,
  • potassium-sparing diuretics such as:
    • spironolactone (Aldactone),
    • triamterene (Dyrenium), and
    • trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim).

Even though mild hyperkalemia is common with these medications, severe hyperkalemia usually do not occur unless these medications are given to patients with kidney dysfunction.

Return to Hyperkalemia (High Blood Potassium)

See what others are saying

Comment from: deepdiver, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: March 20

I had a potassium level of 5.7 when tested before an operation. The doctor said I needed to bring it down prior to surgery. I was prescribed one dose of Kayexalate (sodium polystyrene sulfonate powder). Pharmacy only dispenses 1 pound at $97. Upon consulting the doctor again, he said to just drink lots of water and avoid high potassium foods. Will retest later today, hope it works.

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