Authors: Abuelo JG
Citation: Semin Dial 2014 Dec;
PMID : 25488729, Journal: Semin Dial, ,
Date created: 2014-12-09
Serum potassium concentrations rise with dietary potassium intake between dialysis sessions and are often at hyperkalemic levels by the next session. Conversely, potassium concentrations fall during each hemodialysis, and sometimes reach hypokalemic levels by the end. Low potassium dialysate, which rapidly decreases serum potassium and often brings it to hypokalemic levels, is almost universally considered a risk factor for life-threatening arrhythmias. While there is little doubt about the threat of lethal arrhythmias due to hyperkalemia, convincing evidence for the danger of low potassium dialysate and rapid or excess potassium removal has not been forthcoming. The original report of more frequent ventricular ectopy in early dialysis that was improved by reducing potassium removal has received very little confirmation from subsequent studies. Furthermore, the occurrence of ventricular ectopy during dialysis does not appear to predict mortality. Studies relating sudden deaths to low potassium dialysate are countered by studies with more thorough adjustment for markers of poor health. Dialysate potassium concentrations affect the excursions of serum potassium levels above or below the normal range, and have the potential to influence dialysis safety. Controlled studies of different dialysate potassium concentration and their effect on mortality and cardiac arrests have not been done. Until these results become available, I propose interim guidelines for the setting of dialysate potassium levels that may better balance risks and benefits.