[Skip to Navigation]
June 1975

Acetazolamide Treatment of Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis: Probable Mechanism of Action

Author Affiliations

From the departments of pharmacology and therapeutics and of medicine (neurology), University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville.

Arch Neurol. 1975;32(6):385-392. doi:10.1001/archneur.1975.00490480051006

Following administration of glucose and insulin to three patients with hypokalemic periodic paralysis, serum K fell 1.9 mM. After administration of acetazolamide, 250 mg four times daily, serum K fell 0.9 mM, a substantial difference. In normal persons glucose and insulin lowered serum K 0.5 mM, and this was not changed substantially by acetazolamide.

The metabolic acidosis induced by the drug appears to be responsible for the change in decrement of serum K and for the amelioration of symptoms in the patients. The findings agree with earlier reports that metabolic acidosis lowers the rate of entry of K± into muscle, thus opposing the heightened or pathological entry of K± into muscle cells during attacks of the disease.

Add or change institution