SEATTLE—A rigorous protocol for the use of low potassium dialysate may be effective for treating hyperkalemia in patients on hemodialysis (HD), researchers reported at the 2016 Annual Dialysis Conference.

Investigators from Hamad General Hospital in Doha, Qatar, conducted a retrospective study of 306 HD patients with a mean age of 59.9 years. Of these, 62 required low potassium dialysate either intermittently (57 patients) or continuously (5 patients) based on an existing rigorous protocol requiring that any patient with a potassium level over 5.5 mmol/L will be started on a low potassium (1 mmol/L) dialysate. During a 6-month period from October 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015, potassium levels were checked before each HD treatment until levels were corrected.

The achieved potassium level using the low potassium dialysate was 5.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.5, 5.2, and 5.3 mmol/L in October, November, December, January, February, and March, respectively.

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The study also showed that significantly more women than men required low potassium dialysate: 36 (26.2%) of 137 women versus 26 (15.3%) of 169 men), according to the investigators.

In addition, the researchers observed a significant decrease in the need for low potassium dialysate in January and February compared with the other months, both in numbers of patients and HD treatments. They attributed these differences to a combination of cooler weather and seasonal change in dietary habits.