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Increased Readmission, Death Risk Among Older Adults With Hyperkalemia, HF

October 09, 2019

Older adults with acute heart failure may be at increased risk for readmission and death within a year if they have hyperkalemia at hospital admission, suggests a study in the European Journal of Internal Medicine. 

The study looked at 2865 patients age 75 or older hospitalized with acute heart failure. Researchers classified patients according to their serum potassium levels at admission: greater than 5.5 mmol/L was considered hyperkalemia; between 3.5 mmol/L and 5.5 mmol/L, normokalemia; and less than 3.5 mmol/L, hypokalemia.  

Over the next 12 months, 43% of the patients died or were readmitted for heart failure, according to the study. The risk was higher for patients hyperkalemia (59%) compared with patients with hypokalemia (41%). 

For patients with hyperkalemia, the hazard ratio for 1-year heart failure readmission was 1.67 and 1.43 for all-cause mortality. Hazard ratios for patients with hypokalemia were 0.90 for readmission and 1.08 for mortality, researchers reported. 

For the combined outcome, the hazard ratios were 1.59 for patients with hyperkalemia and 0.96 for patients with hypokalemia.  

“In patients hospitalized for decompensated heart failure, admission hyperkalemia predicts a higher mid-term risk for heart failure readmission and mortality, probably related to the significant higher risk of readmission,” researchers concluded.

Jolynn Tumolo


Formiga F, Chivite D, Corbella X, et al. Influence of potassium levels on one-year outcomes in elderly patients with acute heart failure. Eur J Intern Med. 2019;60:24-30. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2018.10.016

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