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Ask Dr. Sharon Hooper Your Own Question

Dr. Sharon Hooper
Dr. Sharon Hooper, Board Certified Physician
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 127
Experience:  Internal Medicine
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My potassium level is 5.5, which is slightly elevated per the

Resolved Question:

My potassium level is 5.5, which is slightly elevated per the normal of 3.5 to 5.0. I have been asked to lower my potassium intake and take another blood test to get a colonascaphy (sp) I have searched and have found that there are foods low in potassium, but not that much info. Can someone help? I just turned 55
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. Sharon Hooper replied 1 year ago.

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

Hi, this is dr. hooper

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

What medical problems do you have?

Customer:

I have no medical problem, my blood test came back that my potassium level is at 5.5 which is over the norm of 3.5-5.0. I need to lower my level to get a colonascaphy (sp) and dont really find out how to do that quickly.

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

Is this the only time your potassium has been high or have you had problems like this in the past?

Customer:

Its been very close or over 5.0 in the last few years. My dr was never really worried about it, but they wont do the procedure until is in normal range.

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

Was your kidney function normal on the labs?

Customer:

Yes, both Liver/Kidney normal

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

Excess potassium is gotten rid of by the kidneys. Usually, if kidneys are healthy, it does not matter how much potassium someone eats because kidneys will get rid of what's extra.

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

With that said, some people may have a higher setpoint of potassium

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

or there are a few other conditions which may cause high potassium

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

Doesn't sound like you have been diagnosed with any of these. Do you know what your sodium level was?

Customer:

Yes, Sodium/Serum is 138 Glucose is 102

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

Ok, that's all normal. Maybe you're one of those people whose normal level is slightly outside of the average normal

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

I am going to send you some links that list foods that are very high and very low in potassium so that you know which foods to avoid and which ones to eat more of.

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

Foods Very High in Potassium http://www.uptodate.com/contents/image?imageKey=PI%2F67156&topicKey=PI%2F4427&source=see_link&utdPopup=true

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

Foods Very low in potassium http://www.uptodate.com/contents/image?imageKey=PI%2F63021&topicKey=PI%2F4427&source=see_link&utdPopup=true

Customer:

I dont eat bananna's anymore but I do eat potates, which I know are high but not in excess, its very wierd

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

It is possible to remove some of the potassium in certain vegetables with high potassium levels.

Customer:

Why would the hospital not want to do this procedure due to my slightly elevated level? What is the risk?

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

If the potassium gets too high (usually above 6), there is a risk of arrythmia

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

which is an abnormal heart rhythm. Often, during procedures, they give medications (sedatives) that also increase risk of arrhythmia very slightly. So they're worried that if you already have an elevated risk due to potassium, risk would be even higher with giving those medications

Customer:

Which is a heart attack?

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

Arrhythmia is not a heart attack. It is usually a type of an abnormal heart beat that in its most severe form may stop the heart

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

Once again, this is at LOT higher potassium levels

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

I have even had patients with potassiums in the 7 range without having any arrhythmias

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

So, your 5.5 is barely abnormal

Customer:

Ok, so, that being said, I have never been "put under" my entire life, i take zanax for aniexty, now Im really freaked out!

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

No, no, don't be freaked out. The medicine they use for sedation is very similar to Xanax

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

it's called versed

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

This is given to 1000s of patients each day without problems

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

You don't have to worry. Plus, when you're having the procedure, you're hooked up to a monitor which can see every heart beat

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

If there is something wrong, it is addressed immediately

Customer:

So why dont they want to do the procedure? does my docter need to call them? Just had my annual with another docter, but will call my own docter if thats the case. I cant see me lowering my level in a week, especially since its always been on the high side.

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

Is your colonoscopy already scheduled for next week?

Customer:

No, so I have time, but given my history of not wanting to "go under", this has thrown me for a loop. My doctor knows I will cancel if i feel there is going to be a problem, but I really want to get this done. So do I eat blueberries for a week?

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

You can still try to lower your level a little - not because it's going to make a big difference in your health, but so that you can get a colonoscopy without a hassle. Try to eat foods low in potassium (as it shows in the website i wrote you). Stay away from high potassium foods (temporarily until the colonoscopy) and if you HAVE TO HAVE a vegetable that's high in potassium, eat very small amounts and soak the raw vegetables in water for 2 hours prior to cooking to get out some potassium.

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

No, not just blueberries. Look on the websites I sent to you above.

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

But I have to tell you, risks of this procedure are lot lot less than benefits. Colonoscopies are done in millions of people each year without a problem. They often find cancerous spots or pre-cancerous areas that can be cut out before it's too late. So you should strongly think about having it.

Customer:

Thank you have been extremely helpful Dr. Hooper

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

You're welcome

Dr. Sharon Hooper :

Have a wonderful evening

Customer:

You too!!!

Dr. Sharon Hooper, Board Certified Physician
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 127
Experience: Internal Medicine
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