AAKP is pleased to announce the second annual National High Potassium Awareness Day taking place on May 1, 2021 (5.1.21). The campaign theme continues to be “Are You O-K+?” and aims to help educate kidney patients about high potassium, also known as hyperkalemia. How much do you know about potassium and the kidney diet? Read through these facts and plan to join us on 5.1.21 for National High Potassium Awareness Day! Visit www.areyouok.org for more information on how you can participate!
WHAT IS POTASSIUM?
Potassium is a naturally occurring mineral found in the foods we eat that helps your body function. Potassium helps your heartbeat regularly and your muscles work properly. K+ is the medical abbreviation for potassium.
WHAT IS HIGH POTASSIUM?
Hyperkalemia is also known as high potassium, a condition when the amount of potassium in your blood is higher than it should be. High potassium is generally considered to be 5.1 mEq/L (milliequivalents per liter) or higher.
Potassium levels can be determined by a blood test.
WHY DO KIDNEY PATIENTS NEED TO KNOW THEIR POTASSIUM LEVELS?
High potassium can develop for a number of reasons. One of the most common causes is chronic kidney disease (CKD). Excess potassium is normally removed by the kidneys. If your kidneys are not working properly, potassium can rise to dangerous levels and you could be at risk for serious health issues. These may include an irregular heartbeat, heart attack, temporary paralysis, or even death.
WHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF HIGH POTASSIUM?
Symptoms of high potassium (hyperkalemia) can be vague or mild. High potassium is often discovered during routine blood work. Signs and symptoms may include weakness, fatigue, tingling or numbing, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, unable to move, nausea, and vomiting.
WHAT CAN KIDNEY PATIENTS DO TO LOWER OR MANAGE THEIR POTASSIUM LEVELS?
It is very important to talk to your healthcare team to discuss ways to limit your potassium intake if your kidneys are impaired.
HIGH POTASSIUM FOODS
Dialysis patients should get all treatments and exchanges prescribed to help prevent high potassium.
Learn what foods have high potassium (such as bananas and avocados) and which have low potassium (such as apples and green beans). Ask your doctor about which medications could be impacting your potassium levels as well as if medication is needed to help lower or manage your potassium level.
POTASSIUM AND FOOD LABELS:
It is important to read food nutrition labels carefully. Good news for kidney patients: food companies are now required to list potassium content. Be sure to talk to your healthcare team about what to look for on food labels and in the ingredients list. Review the food label diagram below for some helpful tips.
The nutrition facts label gives important information to all consumers. On a special diet, it can help you identify certain nutrients in your food.
LOW POTASSIUM FOODS
POTASSIUM AND SALT SUBSTITUTES:
Although lowering sodium is extremely important for kidney patients, use caution with salt substitutes (including low sodium packaged foods) because many of them contain potassium.
• AAKP Nutrition Counter: a pocket-sized brochure with nutritional values for more than 300 foods available at www.AAKP.org/shop
• AAKP Delicious! Recipe Card Series: a kidney-friendly recipe series created to help you cook healthy, delicious meals that fit your kidney diet available at www.AAKP.org/shop
• AAKP Kidney-Friendly Recipes: WWW.AAKP.org/recipes The second annual National High Potassium Awareness Campaign is proudly supported by an educational donation from Vifor Pharma.