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July 1951


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1951;88(1):20-27. doi:10.1001/archinte.1951.03810070030004

IN N RECENT years much attention has been directed to the occurrence of potassium intoxication in renal disease.1 Reports of intolerance to potassium in renal insufficiency2 have contributed to the general impression that patients with damaged kidneys have decreased capacity to rid the body of potassium, that there is thus "retention" of potassium and that the patient with terminal renal disease dies as the result of cardiac intoxication secondary to hyperpotassemia. It would appear, however, that derangement of potassium metabolism in renal disease will commonly result in the occurrence of potassium deficiency. It is true that some patients with advanced renal insufficiency may have an elevated serum potassium concentration and certain of these patients will demonstrate clinical or electrocardiographic evidence of potassium intoxication.3 Many patients, however, will have normal or near-normal serum levels despite evidence of severe renal disease, and, indeed, this has been the more usual

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