Sunday, June 5, 2011

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Hyperkalemia - ECG changes

Hyperkalemia is a very dangerous and potentially lethal condition because it will eventually affect the heart. With mild increase in plasma K+ level, the first change in the ECG is the appearance of tall peaked T waves, which is a manifestation of altered repolarization. As plasma K+ levels rise further, there is the paralysis of the atria and QRS complexes are prolonged and slurred. 
Ventricular arrhythmias may develop. The resting membrane potential of the muscle fibers decreases as the extracellular K+ concentration increases. The fibers eventually become unexcitable, and the heart stops in diastole.


  1. Its interesting that the students really don't apply their knowledge of their introductory years of medical school to figure out what should happen in these patients.