This site is intended for healthcare professionals
Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy
Hypokalaemia is defined as serum potassium concentration below 3.5 mmol/l. It can be divided into:
The condition is one of the commonest electrolyte disturbances encountered in the clinical practice
Women are thought to be more susceptible to hypokalaemia than men, especially when given thiazide diuretics. This is probably due to reduced muscle mass and a smaller pool of exchangeable K+ (2)
Pseudohypokalaemia related to seasonal (summer) changes in ambient temperature has been described in some literature. It is caused by metabolic increases in Na+,K+- ATPase (‘sodium pump’) activity and cellular uptake of K+ (2).
Note that hypokalaemia exacerbates digoxin toxicity.