Hyperkalaemia – everything you need to know (from other people)!

When I was studying for the Fellowship exam, one topic I had a really hard time getting my head around was electrolyte abnormalities, in particular potassium problems. I just couldn’t seem to find a nice succinct summary. Luckily hypokalaemia is relatively uncommon, and is rarely a life threatening problem – and the treatment is simple: give potassium. Hyperkalaemia on the other hand is more common, more complicated, and more life threatening, and the treatment is more complex. The textbooks don’t seem to cover this topic very well, BUT there are a few web posts that pretty much cover everything you need to know to answer a VAQ/SCE about hyperkalaemia, so check them out:

1) Corey Slovis’s Electrloyte Talk: the best talk you’ll ever hear about electrolyte abnormalities. Don’t show up to your next shift until you’ve listened to this, and definitely don’t show up to the exam without having listened to it 3 or 4 times.

2) LITFL: Causes, complications and Correction of hyperkalaemia.

3) LITFL: ECG features of hyperkalaemia. From the ECG guru Ed Burns. In a nutshell: Think Hyper-K+ in any ECG that is slow, wide, peaked, or blocked.

4) EMCrit: Treatment of severe hyperkalaemia. Great summary, and print out the table of treatments, put it up on your bathroom mirror, and read it every morning & night for a few months before the exam – it’s essential exam knowledge.

Listen to the talks, read the two LITFL posts, and you’ll be an instant hyperkalaemia guru. These posts will allow you to give expert answers in the exam, and will definitely help you in your next shift.

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