Severe Hypokalemia in Hospitalized Patients

David H. Lawson*, David A. Henry, Julia M. Lowe, Jane M.B. Gray, H. Gemmell Morgan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Profound hypokalemia was observed in 73 patients in a major university teaching hospital during a three-year period. When compared with hospitalized subjects used as controls, these patients experienced a greater mortality, were substantially more likely to be female, but were not more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease. Use of a diuretic appeared to precipitate profound hypokalemia infrequently, and when it did, the clinical situation was extremely complex. Over 10% of the patients with hypokalemia had acute myeloid leukemia, an incidence 22 times greater than that expected. Hypokalemia should be sought in all patients with this disease, since it is an avoidable cause of death. Further studies into the mechanism of hypokalemia are required to explain its striking preponderance in women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)978-980
Number of pages3
JournalArchives of Internal Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1979
Externally publishedYes


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