How potassium impacts your health

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JOPLIN, Mo. — Blood tests can lead to a dizzying list of numbers, milligrams, and international units.

And sometimes it can be tough to know how one factor, like potassium, impacts your health.

“Here lately, it’s been a frequent thing for me,” said Karla Kleveno, Carthage.

Carthage patient Karla Kleveno has seen results from plenty of blood tests in recent weeks.

“It’s very overwhelming. I mean you don’t always understand what you’re looking at, all the different levels and PHS and potassium levels. Stuff that, you don’t always know what they mean,” said Kleveno.

Potassium levels can cause problems with your health if they’re too high or too low.

“It complicates everything if you have out of whack potassium. It makes it, cardiac issues, more common and things like that. Plus, people feel very weak,” said Dr. Robert Stauffer, Cardiologist.

Too much potassium in your blood, that’s hyperkalemia. Reduced potassium levels are called hypokalemia.

“Potassium low enough can actually paralyze you. It’s very low but has to be very low. You can get cardiac arrhythmias when it’s moderately low, more commonly, very slow heart rates, etc.,” said Dr. Stauffer.

Potassium rates are monitored during a hospital stay to make sure they stay at safe levels.

“Put people on potassium replacement if their potassium is low, which is usually oral; it can be IV,” said Dr. Stauffer.

And even at home, there are things you can do to tweak your potassium.

“Bananas have potassium and a lot of citrus, juices have potassium, Gatorade has some potassium in it. So in any of those can be used as a supplement,” said Dr. Stauffer.

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