Cardiac arrest due to oral potassium administration

Herbert N. Hultgren, Robert Swenson, George Wettach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Cardiac arrest developed in two patients after the administration of oral potassium. Neither patient had renal insufficiency, but both had underlying heart disease. In one patient fatal ventricular fibrillation developed 4 days after he received an aortic valve replacement for aortic stenosis and while he was receiving oral potassium supplements. The serum potassium level before cardiac arrest was 8.1 meq. The second patient had angina and was given 40 meq of potassium orally 15 minutes after an exercise test which produced chest pain and S-T segment depression. One hour later, ventricular fibrillation developed. Resuscitation was successful. Both patients had electrocardiographic evidence of hyperkalemia. Oral administration of potassium may produce severe cardiac toxicity in patients with heart disease even when renal function is clinically normal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-142
Number of pages4
JournalThe American journal of medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1975


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