I thought potassium was one of the good guys

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I thought potassium was one of the good guys

This topic contains 9 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  hermajtomomi 10 years, 8 months ago.

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  • I’ve just got the results of blood tests prior to my first face-to-face visit to the doc for several years – consultations for med reviews have usually been by phone. The results are all “stable” or “normal” and some like, cholesterol at 4.8, fasting glucose at 5.5, are pretty good. Added to which my once-high BP is now 101/63. My aim is to drastically reduce the meds and eventually get off them altogether.

    I was looking forward to telling the doc of my 5-kilo loss on the Fast Diet, preceded by a reduction of 3-4 kilos simply by being finally taken off steroids prescribed for Polymyalgia Rheumatica, which disappeared nearly 3 years ago but the steroids – albeit in tiny doses – continued until just over a year ago.

    However, I’m told my potassium is high and am anticipating a bollocking from the quack for eating the wrong stuff. Problem is most foods in the high potassium category seem to be “healthy” ones like fruit, veg and oily fish, all things I like and eat on a regular basis. BTW I don’t especially like bananas and maybe eat one five or six times a year.

    What causes high potassium? Can it be the meds themselves? The reason I have booked to see the doctor is because of horrendous leg cramps, which – sod’s law – have disappeared since I made the appointment, but could of course return at any moment. Potassium and cramp seem to be connected.
    Advice, bright ideas gratefully received.

    Hi herajtomomi, I am no expert so cannot give you a substantive answer to your question other than the little I do know.
    It may be the meds that are having an impact but I do know that many foods do have potassium in them. Our bodies need a certain daily amount but as most know we add to this by putting salt on our food and you are clearly aware of this. I can only suggest google re your meds and condition or trawl the posts including the faq tag at the top right on the home page. You may find some help.
    Other than that rely on your Doctor for advice.
    Good luck.

    with eating normal food we (almost) never get a high potassium. What was the level? > 5 mmol/l?
    Might come from your meds or rarely when you drink extreme amounts of fruitjuices for example. but in general not from food.
    btw : when potassium is too low you will suffer from cramps

    Did you have your kidneyfunction checked as well? was it ok?
    ask your doc. again, what he thinks that might be the case
    good luck!

    Couscous and Pauw:
    Unfortunately, test results are given over the phone by front-of-house staff with little or no medical knowledge so I don’t yet have the exact figures. The “high potassium” result related to kidney function, but that’s all I know at this stage.

    I’m seeing the quack next week. It seems odd that the cramps would be due to insufficient potassium when I’m seemingly creating too much of the stuff. BTW, I can’t stand fruit juices apart from apple and that I only drink very, very occasionally – like two or three times a year, usually to keep much younger family members company. I’ll follow couscous’s suggestion and look at the FAQs.

    It could be down to the wretched meds, which the other more positive results suggest I may no longer need. Sadly when you get to a certain age, the medics shovel them down your throat “just in case” I’m just going to have to throw a tantrum or two (only kidding!).

    From my work I know, that potasium can be high, if the pressureband bij taking blood is to tight, here in the netherlands they check it twice before they begin to think that something is wromg. Most of te time if they take a second bloodtest, its normal. You have to do really crazy things to get you potassium high. And Pauw is right you get leg cramps if your potassium is low and not if its high.
    Will you let us know what the doctor ordered? I’m currious what he/ she will say. By the way I work as the assistant of a GP here

    Thanks for your possible explanation, anssies. The phlebotomist always has difficulty raising a vein on my arm – sometimes she has to resort to sticking the needle in the back of my hand (not nice!)- so on this occasion it might have been over-eagerness on her part. Sounds like you have the right idea in the Netherlands – like you do about so many things. Great country, very, very civilised!

    this article concurs w/

    Sometimes, a high potassium count is the result of falsely elevated laboratory test, most frequently due to the rupture of red blood cells (called hemolysis) in the test sample either during or immediately after taking the blood. Hemolysis may occur due to rough handling during the blood draw or of the tube of blood before it is analyzed and does not accurately reflect the level of potassium in the body. Simply repeating the blood draw will most likely show a normal result.


    Thanks, wiltdnrUSA, you seem to bear out what anssies is saying. I hope you are both correct. This isn’t the first time this has happened so I can’t help thinking that I might still get the “too many bananas” lecture. As it happens, I’m not wild about the bendy yellow things and only eat them very occasionally. There does seem to be a tendency among the medical profession – at least the ones I have run into – to see anything that deviates from the norm as somehow the patient’s fault, rather than the result of something that has occurred during the testing process. .

    yes i call them the white coat mafia

    the good one’s
    r very few & far between

    Couldn’t have put it better myself, wiltdnrUSA. I keep away from them as much as I can. When I find a good one, he (it’s usually a he) always leaves the practice. It’s happened twice in the last two years. And unsisterly as it is to say it, in my experience the female docs are much less sympathetic and more judgemental than their male counterparts.

    I fully agree with anssies and wiltldnrUSA remarks ! I for got to mention it, but they are absolutely right. When it was difficult to get the blood you must be very careful with ” judging” the potassium results.

    As anssies says, let s have it checked a second time.
    Ps: I am also from the Netherlands 😉

    Thanks for the additional information, Pauw. It seems clear that the problem lies with the collection of the blood sample. Let’s see what the doc has to say. No doubt it will still be my fault somehow. I’m not paranoid, I just know they’re out to get me.
    Have a great weekend in the lovely Netherlands.

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