Potassium is the essential mineral for the human body andvery important component for the good health. Almost all of the potassium (98%)is located inside the body cells. This mineral is important for the human heartand its normal functioning.
Lack of potassium might cause problems in the contractions ofthe heart muscle. Low potassium can cause several symptoms in people sufferingfrom this condition, including: slow pulse, heart beat irregularities, andsometimes even heart failure.
The kidneys are sensitive to potassium levels also, and theincrease or decrease of potassium can harm these organs in the body. Kidneys arenot only affected by the potassium, but they also regulate the metabolism ofthis mineral and give out potassium.
To maintain the healthy level of potassium in the blood, eatfood rich in this mineral, such as bananas and other fruits, legumes and greenleafy vegetables.
Potassium Blood Test
Blood testing is the easiest way to determine the level ofpotassium in the blood. The common test is known as the electrolyte level test.If your levels of blood potassium are in the normal ranges you don’t have toworry.
Test results are more likely to show the decrease of thepotassium in the blood than heightened potassium levels.
Blood Test Results
Normal range of the blood potassium varies from 3.7 to 5.2mEq/l (mili equivalent per litre). The numbers are different for each personand doctors consider slightly different values as normal as well. So, people withthe potassium levels of about 3.5 to 5 mEq/l are also considered to have normalblood potassium.
Amount of blood potassium in children is about the samevalues as for the adults. It is considered normal that a blood of a childcontains 3.4 to 5.0 mEq/l of potassium.
In some cases, the results of the potassium blood test aren’taccurate. These situations include the patients using: laxatives, potassiumsupplements, antibiotics, corticosteroids or NSAIDs (non steroid antiinflammatory drugs). People using medications for high blood pressure or someheart disorders might also experience inaccurate lab results. Severe vomitingmight also affect the results of a potassium blood test.
Excess potassium or hyperkaliemia is considered to be 7.0 ormore mEq/l of potassium in the blood. The causes of this condition might be:elevated acids in the blood and kidney or adrenal gland problems. Potentialhealth risks of hyperkaliemia include heart beat problems, blockage of the electricalsignals in the brain and sometimes even heart attack and death.
If your potassium is higher than normal, consult your doctor.He/she will probably recommend and ECG (elector cardiogram) of the heart, to checkfor the potential damage of the heart muscle.
Hypokaliemia is the condition characterized by low potassiumlevel in the blood. It may be caused by: laxatives, diuretics, corticosteroids, diarrheaor vomiting, but also by low magnesium levels, Cushing’s syndrome or kidney problems.
Patients having hypokaliemia experience muscle cramps andpains and generalized body weakness.