Hyperkalemia Less Common Among Blacks

The association between potassium levels and mortality, however, was similar among races.
The association between potassium levels and mortality, however, was similar among races.

BOSTON—Black people have lower potassium levels on average than individuals of other races, according to data presented at the National Kidney Foundation's 2016 Spring Clinical Meetings.

In a study of 2.7 million US veterans, Morgan Grams, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues found that mean potassium levels at baseline were 4.1 mmol/L among blacks compared with 4.3 mmol/L among non-blacks, a significant difference between the groups. Hyperkalemia (potassium levels above 5 mmol/L) was significantly less prevalent among blacks than non-blacks (2.3% vs. 4.5%). Compared with non-blacks, blacks had a 34%, 48%, and 58% decreased risk of transient, intermittent, and persistent hyperkalemia, respectively.

The researchers defined transient hyperkalemia as a one-time potassium measurement above 5 mmol/L, intermittent hyperkalemia as a potassium value above 5 mmol/L in 50% or fewer potassium checks, and persistent hyperkalemia as a potassium value above 5 mmol/L in more than 50% of potassium checks.

The association between potassium levels and mortality was similar for blacks and non-blacks. Results also showed that blacks had a significantly higher prevalence of hypokalemia (potassium levels below 3.5 mmol/L) compared with non-blacks (5.4% vs. 2.2%).

The study population consisted of individuals with an estimated glomerular filtration rate of 60 mL/min/1.73 m2 or higher.

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