Date of publication: January 8, 2018

Medical Education

Pathophysiology of Hyperkalaemia

Potassium is critical for many physiological functions. Although normal homeostatic mechanisms precisely maintain the serum potassium level within a narrow range, pathogenic disturbances can lead to hyperkalaemia, a relatively common clinical condition that can induce potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias.

Understanding the pathophysiology of hyperkalaemia is the focus of this e-learning module. Developed in collaboration with Professor Angel de Francisco (Hospital Universitario Valdecilla, Santander, Spain), this e-learning resource provides a richly interactive learning experience that you can follow at your own pace. The module is comprised of four sections, with opportunities throughout to test your understanding of the topic, and includes an end-of-module assessment that consolidates your learning.

Learning objectives

  • Understand the pathogenesis of hyperkalaemia and its consequences for the patient
  • Explain the mechanisms of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system
  • Describe the processes that regulate internal and external potassium homeostasis
  • Explain the role of the kidneys in potassium homeostasis
  • Describe risk factors for developing hyperkalaemia


  1. Atlas SA. The renin-angiotensin aldosterone system: pathophysiological role and pharmacologic inhibition. J Manag Care Pharm 2007;13:9–20.
  2. Ben Salem C et al. Drug-induced hyperkalemia. Drug Saf 2014;37:677–692.
  3. Gumz ML et al. An Integrated View of Potassium Homeostasis. N Engl J Med 2015;373:60–72.
  4. Kovesdy CP. Management of hyperkalaemia in chronic kidney disease. Nat Rev Nephrol 2014;10:653–662.
  5. Lamis G et al. Diabetes mellitus and electrolyte disorders. World J Clin Cases 2014;2:
  6. Sarwar CM et al. Hyperkalemia in Heart Failure. J Am Coll Cardiol 2016;68:1575–1589.


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