Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Symptoms of low potassium?

Potassium affects the way neuromuscular cells discharge energy (depolarize) and then regenerate (repolarize) that energy to be able to fire again. When potassium levels are low, the cells cannot repolarize and are unable to fire repeatedly, as is needed for the function of muscles and nerves. It is understandable then that the effects of low potassium include

1) muscle weakness,

2) muscle aches, and

3) muscle cramps.

( A muscle cramp is an involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax. When we use the muscles that can voluntarily be controlled, such as those of our arms and legs, they alternately contract and relax as we move our limbs. Muscles that support our head, neck, and trunk contract similarly in a synchronized fashion to maintain our posture. A muscle (or even a few fibers of a muscle) that involuntarily (without consciously willing it) contracts is called a "spasm." If the spasm is forceful and sustained, it becomes a cramp.)

Since the heart is also a muscle, there can be some changes in the electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) What is an electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)?
(the electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a noninvasive test that is used to reflect underlying heart conditions by measuring the electrical activity of the heart. By positioning leads (electrical sensing devices) on the body in standardized locations, information about many heart conditions can be learned by looking for characteristic patterns on the EKG.)
that are associated with hypokalemia, especially in the repolarization section of the EKG tracing.
Palpitations ( Palpitations are the unpleasant sensations of irregular and/or forceful beating of the heart in the chest. This symptom can be caused by a change in the rate or rhythm, or by an increase in the force of the contraction of the heart muscle. In some patients with palpitations, no heart disease or abnormal heart rhythms can be found. In others, palpitations result from abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias. Arrhythmias are heartbeats that are too slow, too rapid, irregular, or too early.) (irregular heartbeats) may be perceived by the patient. In severe cases, hypokalemia can lead to dangerous disturbances in heart rhythm (arrhythmias).