Elevated Potassium Levels?

Has anyone else had this come back in blood tests? I saw the biologics nurse this morning, and had a load of bloods done in advance of starting Enbrel to check for Hepatitis, TB, etc as well as the normal bloods that we all have done far too often. Then got a phone call this afternoon to say that my potassium levels have come back out of range at 5.7 (should be no higher than 5.0, theoretically). All kidney function tests have come back as normal - and they always have done. Potassium has always been in range as well. It was only 4.4 some six weeks ago. The nurse has called me in to have it repeated and seems to think there might be a lab error/false reading. Has anyone else had this issue? It;s rather got me concerned - not that it takes much to get me concerned!

I’m betting the high potassium levels Instead, was caused by the rupture of blood cells in the blood sample during or shortly after the blood draw. The ruptured cells leak their potassium into the sample. It’s extremely common. In any event 5.7 is a pretty mild elevation. Most often if not lab error, it is dietary, supplements, UTI, or medication

Thanks. Yeah, I think she was including that in the “lab error” category, to be honest. I don’t have dietary supplements of that nature - although I do use lo-salt, but have done for five years, and my potassium has been fine month after month for the last three years, so I doubt it’s that. Oddly, the site of the blood test bled for a good few minutes today - something it’s never done before, so that again might suggest that something went a bit askew when the blood was taken. To be honest, an error/problem of some sort (either in the lab or the one you describe) is the only thing that makes sense to me given the rest of the kidney results being fine - and the fact that the potassium has been stable ever since I’ve had the blood tests which started three years ago (with one exception where it went low after a stomach bug).

Sadly, with the bipolar, my mind goes through a lot of “what ifs” and it’s difficult to control them or keep them at bay. So thank you for helping to put my mind at rest. I’ll let you know what happens on Monday, when I hope the results come through as quick as they did today!

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Darinfan, are you taking a lot of paracetamol (panadol, tylenol, acetaminophen or whatever it is called where you are) these days?

I had a spike in potassium levels when I suddenly started taking maximum amounts of tylenol last year. I was going through a tough time, and decided to make my life a bit more comfortable, so started taking the maximum dose indicated on the label. Next blood test, I had high K. Doc thought it was a lab error. Redid test. Nope, same result. Waited a couple of weeks, did it again, still high. Then I started researching and found an obscure little nugget of info that this can happen when intake is suddenly raised, especially in females over 60. (Ya ya, I know … LOL)

I cut back on the tylenol, and problem solved.

No, to be honest I’m taking less painkillers because I’m on steroids - and the steroids didn’t change it last time I took them. I’m just hoping it is a lab/test problem. I have enough on my plate at the moment without something else to worry about. To be fair, the test itself wasn’t quite as smooth as it is when I have it done at the GP instead. It seemed to take longer, and then couldn’t get the arm to stop bleeding after. So, I think TNT is probably right - and the nurse on the phone couldn’t come up with another explanation but said it needed to be retested anyway. It was one of those “I don’t want to worry you…” phone calls! Too late!

Otherwise, the only other thing I can think of is that IBS has been playing up because of what happened with Mum a couple of weeks back, and I’ve been taking much more Gaviscon as a result of reflux etc - and the main ingredient of that is a form of potassium, as it happens. I don’t think I’ve taken THAT much(!), and I was blood tested virtually every other week during the summer as I was on methotrexate at the time, and it’s never moved from around 4.5. Oddly we’d been going back through my bloods on Friday morning at the hospital at my meeting there, and the nurse was saying how predictable they all were when you started looking back! Famous last words.

I don’t feel ill, and certainly have no symptoms of anything I’ve seen related to high potassium online. Kidney test was fine apparently. So I’m hoping I go up there tomorrow and everything turns out OK. One good thing of having blood tests as often as we do, is you tend to think it can’t be anything too drastic when everything was fine just a few weeks earlier and there has been no gradual increase during the previous 5000 blood samples they have taken over the last few years! I hope not, anyway, as really want to get started on these biologics asap.

I might well take a urine sample with me - apparently they can test for it that way as well - and if they can do it via a dipstick thingy, then I’ll be able to find . out there and then.

Well there you go… I feel like an idiot, I should have figured it out a couple days ago Prednisone always increases bllod potassium levels at doses higher than 5mg/day and generally wih in +/- ten days. At the same time it will usually LOWER potassium levels in urine… Should be an interesting day tomorrow. I think the only thing you need worry about is will the blood or urine number come out first???

Well, whatever it was it’s back to normal now. Back down to 3.9 instead of 5.7, which is about right for me. CRP has gone down from 90 back down to 9 on the steroids too, and ESR is back at 5 - it’s never been that low - so that’s a bit of a morale booster too.

And relax!