Frequency, severity and risk factors of hypokalemia in patients admitted to pediatric hospital wards

Muthanna Medical Journal
Volume 4, Issue 2, December 2017, Pages 142-147

Research Article

Salah Mahdi Farhan¹

* Correspondence author:
¹Al-Hussein pediatric hospital in Al-Diwanya
Received 27 September 2017, Accepted 12 November 2017, Available online 27 December 2017
This is article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright © 2017 SF


Low potassium level is classified as the most abnormality that occur in serum electrolyte in pediatric age group. Severe hypokalemia may lead to severely critical states (such as heart rhythm disturbances and respiratory problems). The aim of the study are: Determine how hypokalemia is frequent; Discuss the degree of severity; Discuss the risk factors and estimate the mortality rate related to hypokalemia. We study hospital cases of 200 patients up to 11 years of age in the pediatric hospital wards of Al-Hussein hospital from January 2016 until January 2017. Patients with hypokalemia were treated by I.V fluids with different degrees of potassium content according to the degree of hypokalemia. Any ECG changes due to hypokalemia were treated with a concentrated potassium chloride solution until normalization of ECG findings. The frequency of hypokalemia was highest with diarrheal dehydration (57%) and acute renal failure (46.6%), followed by acute chest diseases, e.g. asthma (39.7%), then heart disease (e.g. Heart failure), septicemia, central nervous system diseases and Diabetic ketoacidosis. An important result of this study is: no clear relationship between ECG changes and potassium levels in the serum. In conclusion hypokalemia is common among pediatric patients. Early diagnosis and correction improves the outcome. It may affect the electrical activity in all muscle types. Very low levels of serum potassium can  lead to life threatening cases (arrhythmias are an example). Moderate or severe hypokalemia must be managed as rapidly as possible because of the absence of a clear relationship between levels of serum potassium and abnormal ECG changes.

Key words: Hypokalemia; Electrolytes; Electrolyte imbalance; Potassium

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