Hyperkalaemia could be caused by low-sodium salt in the diet of vulnerable patients, experts have warned.
Medics at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary claimed that this type of salt could significantly raise potassium levels in patients with reduced kidney function or those taking certain drugs.
Staff at the hospital noticed the problem while treating an elderly man who was suffering from complications of diabetes.
The man’s blood potassium levels rose to 6.9 millimoles per litre (mmol/L) during his hospital stay, and he did not respond to treatment for raised potassium.
Doctors noted that the man, aged in his 80s, was in the habit of adding three or four sachets of a reduced-sodium salt called Solo to his meals.
The patient’s blood levels fell back to 5.3mmol/L, within the normal range, once the Solo was taken out of his diet.
In a letter to the British Medical Journal, Dr Alexandra Dent and colleagues wrote: “Although Solo can reduce blood pressure, it is a potential risk factor for developing hyperkalaemia in vulnerable patients.
“Outpatients with diabetes have also been found to have high potassium values, which have fallen after advice cautioning ingestion of this supplement.”