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July 25, 1959


JAMA. 1959;170(13):1552-1553. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03010130056015

RENEWED interest has been stimulated in the element potassium. Evidence is accumulating that both hyperpotassemia and hypopotassemia are clinically significant disorders. Even the cardiotoxic property of potassium has a direct clinical application in the use of potassium citrate to induce complete, temporary arrest of the heart in surgery.1

Much that has long been known about potassium metabolism remained clinically inapplicable in the past because of the lack of good chemical methods to determine the concentration of potassium in body fluids and tissues. The first general facts about salt balance, about the harmful effects of deficiencies and excesses of potassium, and about its curious distribution between intracellular and extracellular fluids were obtained either by indirection or by difficult analytical methods. Since that time research in this field has been expedited by advances in chemistry. Advances in physics have likewise brought improved understanding of many other medical aspects of potassium, for