October 19, 1963


JAMA. 1963;186(3):27-41. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03710030005002

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Contraindicated Or Compatible  ?For some time, potassium has been administered to patients with coronary disease. Like most new drugs which have shown some degree of effectiveness, potassium was enthusiastically received and, some say, too enthusiastically given. Recent observations, though, have pointed to contraindications, and certain cardiologists have suggested caution in the use of potassium. What then is the status of potassium today, particularly in its relation to heart patients taking digitalis? Charles Fisch, MD, Chief of the Cardiovascular Division at Indiana University School of Medicine and Director of the Krannert Heart Research Institute of Marion County (Ind) Hospital, discussed the question with The Journal.

Potassium Can Induce Complete Heart Block Following Large Digitalis Doses  "At this time, cardiologists are in general agreement: One uses potassium (K) when there's digitalis-induced arrhythmia accompanied by hypokalemia."There is "a lot of experimental evidence suggesting that hypokalemia actually may make digitalis intoxication worse."

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