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Frequently Asked Questions

How does hyperkalemia affect EKG?

While mild hyperkalemia probably has a limited effect on the heart, moderate hyperkalemia can produce EKG changes (EKG is a reading of the electrical activity of the heart muscles), and severe hyperkalemia can cause suppression of electrical activity of the heart and can cause the heart to stop beating.

How does hyperkalemia relate to the ECG?

There is a rather strong correlation between plasma potassium level and ECG changes, as well as the risk of arrhythmia . Therefore the ECG may be used to estimate the severity of hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia decreases impulse transmission in the entire heart. Severe symptoms occur at 7 mmol/L or higher.

What are the findings from EKG?

Typical ECG findings include diffuse concave-upward ST-segment elevation and, occasionally, PR-segment depression . ECG changes of both acute myocardial infarction and early repolarization can appear similar to ECG changes of acute pericarditis.

Why do you get peaked T waves in hyperkalemia?

Hyperkalemia — Suspect as the cause of T wave peaking when the clinical setting is one likely to produce hyperkalemia (ie, renal failure, volume depletion, acidosis, potassium-retaining drugs) – and – when T waves are tall, pointed with steep ascent and near equally steep descent with a narrow base (as seen in Figure 2 ).


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