Hyperkalemia is the medical term that describes a potassium level in your blood that's higher than normal. Potassium is a nutrient that is critical to the function of nerve and muscle cells, including those in your heart.
Your blood potassium level is normally 3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). Having a blood potassium level higher than 7.0 mmol/L can be dangerous and requires immediate treatment.
High potassium (hyperkalemia)
The most common cause of genuinely high potassium (hyperkalemia) is related to your kidneys, such as:
- Acute kidney failure
- Chronic kidney disease
Other causes of hyperkalemia include:
- Addison's disease (adrenal failure)
- Alcoholism or heavy drug use that causes rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle fibers that results in the release of potassium into the bloodstream
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)
- Destruction of red blood cells due to severe injury or burns
- Excessive use of potassium supplements
- Type 1 diabetes
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.