ASN's Mission

To create a world without kidney diseases, the ASN Alliance for Kidney Health elevates care by educating and informing, driving breakthroughs and innovation, and advocating for policies that create transformative changes in kidney medicine throughout the world.

learn more

Contact ASN

1401 H St, NW, Ste 900, Washington, DC 20005


The Latest on X

Kidney Week

Please note that you are viewing an archived section from 2023 and some content may be unavailable. To unlock all content for 2023, please visit the archives.

Abstract: TH-PO369

A Case of Severe Hyperkalemia: How High Can You Go?

Session Information

Category: Fluid, Electrolytes, and Acid-Base Disorders

  • 1102 Fluid, Electrolyte, and Acid-Base Disorders: Clinical


  • Jafari, Golriz, UCLA Medical Center Olive View, Sylmar, California, United States
  • Haghi, Masoud, UCLA Medical Center Olive View, Sylmar, California, United States
  • Pham, Phuong-Chi T., UCLA Medical Center Olive View, Sylmar, California, United States
  • Kamarzarian, Anita, UCLA Medical Center Olive View, Sylmar, California, United States

Hyperkalemia is a common complication of both acute kidney injury (AKI) as well as chronic kidney disease (CKD). In severe cases, it can result in fatal arrhythmias and cardiovascular complications. Extremely elevated values may be mistaken for lab error due to hemolysis which can delay treatment and lead to preventable complications.

Case Description

A 46-year-old female with HTN and DM who presents to the emergency room with abdominal pain and found to have AKI with creatinine 8.9 mg/dl, BUN 75 mg/dl, CO2 9 mmol/L and severe hyperkalemia K 10 meq/L. There was no available baseline creatinine or history of prior CKD. Initial ECG at 22:07 showed QRS widening which was near a sinusoidal wave pattern. Patient was temporized with calcium gluconate, insulin/D50, fluids and received loop diuretic and zirconium. Dialysis access was quickly obtained, and dialysis initiated with 2K bath for the first hour followed by 1K bath for the second hour. Follow up ECG at 22:25 showed improvement of QRS after temporization and ECG had complete resolution with normal sinus rhythm and narrow QRS complex post dialysis. Etiology of AKI was presumed due to severe hypovolemia from poor oral intake in setting of Covid infection. There was no evidence of rhabdomyolysis, hemolysis, or urinary obstruction. Patient only required 1 dialysis session and creatinine improved to 3.4 on discharge 3 days later and 1.9 mg//dl 10 days after.


Patients with advanced CKD and especially those on dialysis can usually tolerate higher levels of serum potassium due to higher intracellular stores and consequently a lower degree of membrane potential differential. In contrast patients with AKI usually do not have that buffer and have a higher likelihood of morbidity and mortality with severe hyperkalemia. ECG is a valuable tool to assess, confirm and monitor hyperkalemia in order to avoid delays in treatment and prevent cardiac arrest.

ECG at 22:07

ECG at 22:25