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Danger of High Potassium Levels

Updated February 12, 2018

Potassium is important for keeping the heartbeat regular and muscles and nerves working properly. However, very high potassium levels can cause certain dangers. Healthy kidneys filter extra potassium from the blood, but when kidneys do not work properly, high blood potassium can result. People with kidney problems need to limit the amount of potassium they eat.

Considerations

High blood potassium, or hyperkalemia, often has no symptoms and is discovered during a routine blood test.

Symptoms

High potassium symptoms include weakness, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, shortness of breath and numb and tingling sensations.

Danger of High Potassium

If potassium becomes excessively high, it can cause an irregular heartbeat or even a heart attack.

Levels

Safe blood potassium is between 3.5 to 5.0 as measured by a blood test. Levels higher than 6.0 are considered dangerous.

Food

Almost all foods contain potassium. Many fruits and vegetables are high in potassium, but many others have low levels. Bananas, tomato paste, baked potatoes, beet greens and spinach are all extremely high in potassium. See the Resources section for a list of foods high--and low--in potassium.

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About the Author

Shelley Moore is a journalist and award-winning short-story writer. She specializes in writing about personal development, health, careers and personal finance. Moore has been published in "Family Circle" magazine and the "Milwaukee Sentinel" newspaper, along with numerous other national and regional magazines, daily and weekly newspapers and corporate publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in psychology.