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Hypokalemia with Hypercalcemia: Prevalence and Significance in Treatment

[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

Grant support: by Grants CA 05831-16 and CA 16672-02 from the National Cancer Institute, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and Grant ACS PDT-41E from the American Cancer Society.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Naguib A. Samaan, M.D.; Section of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, 6723 Bertner Ave.; Houston, TX 77030.

Houston, Texas

Ann Intern Med. 1977;87(5):571-573. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-87-5-571
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Hypokalemia is a potentially life-threatening biochemical abnormality in patients with hypercalcemia. We studied a large group of patients with hypercalcemia to determine the prevalence of hypokalemia. One hundred three patients with normal renal function and no history of taking potassium-depleting drugs comprise the substance of this study. Thirty three of 103 patients (32%) were hypokalemic. A higher prevalence (52.3%) was found in patients with hypercalcemia associated with malignant disease than in those with primary hyperparathyroidism (16.9%). In addition, the degree and frequency of hypokalemia were greatest at the higher serum calcium levels. The presence of hypokalemia must be considered when treating severe hypercalcemia; otherwise, vigorous use of diuretics may result in profound hypokalemia and tachyrhythmias.





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