A question we would like to ask you is why the child had his blood potassium checked? Was the
doctor looking for a specific medical condition or was the blood checked for potassium as part
of another test?
The most common cause of elevated potassium levels in the blood, known medically as
kyperkalemia, is from the breakdown of red blood cells that sometimes happens when blood is
taken from a vein. Red blood cells are high in potassium and if a lot of potassium is released into
the blood when the specimen is taken, then a high potassium level is reported. A repeat blood
test usually shows a normal potassium level.
There are many possible medical conditions that could cause an elevated potassium in your
baby’s blood. Our kidneys help maintain normal potassium levels in the blood by filtration,
reabsorption, and excretion of excess potassium in the urine with the aid of the hormone
aldosterone. Therefore, kidney disease can cause abnormal levels of potassium to accumulate in
If potassium supplements are taken in excess of your kidneys' ability to remove them, a high
level in the blood also may result. Destruction of blood cells within the body, such as from
burns, major trauma or a transfusion reaction also can increase your potassium level. Rare
conditions such as adrenal failure (Addison's disease) and some forms of congenital kidney
disease also increase potassium in the blood. In addition, certain medications, like diuretics that
conserve potassium also may result in hyperkalemia.