Could Higher Potassium Levels Actually Influence Long-Term Survival In People With Kidney Issues?

Researchers are suggesting having high levels of serum potassium may help with long term survival of the condition in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD is a condition where one or both kidneys function at reduce capacity or do not function at all. The kidneys filter the blood of wastes and toxins which would, otherwise, build up in the body. According to scientists, the high levels of potassium were particularly useful when the patient was transitioning to hemodialysis.

Hemodialysis, simply known as dialysis, is a procedure where the blood is filtered by a machine. Researchers looked at 43,798 mostly male US veterans transitioning to end-stage kidney disease of a mean age 69 years; 29% of whom were African-American. A serum potassium level of 5.5 mEq/L was considered normal and the study designated those with at least 5.0 as high. These individuals had a 5% greater survival rate after beginning dialysis, compared with those who were at 4.5 or less. Those with at least 4.0 but less than 4.5 mEq/L and at least 3.5 but less than 4.0 mEq/L and below-normal levels of less than 3.5 mEq/L had 7%, 5%, and 16% higher risks for all-cause mortality, respectively.

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