Hypokalemia in patients on continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) may be a risk factor for peritonitis and poor nutritional status, data show.

Cheng-Hsu Chen, MD, of the Taichung Veterans General Hospital in Taichung, Taiwan, and colleagues studied 140 CAPD patients.

The overall prevalence of peritonitis was significantly higher in patients with hypokalemia than in those without the condition (6.9% vs. 2.1%), according to a report in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation (2009;24:1603-1608).

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Hypokalemia was defined as a serum potassium level below 3.5 mmol/L. Hypokalemia also was associated with lower serum albumin, serum phosphate, total serum cholesterol, and normalized protein nitrogen appearance. The investigators observed no correlation between serum potassium level and daily PD exchange volume.

When the researchers group etiologic organisms of peritonitis according to their usual site of colonization, Enterobacteriaceae appeared to be more prevalent than epidermal microbes in patients with hypokalemia (53.1% vs. 18.8%).