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Lesser-known electrolyte disorder a major driver of hospital ...

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Lesser-known electrolyte disorder a major driver of hospital deaths in SA

A third of patients with long-term conditions such as HIV, kidney failure and diabetes die from it

Journalist

It’s a disease that is not much talked about outside medical circles, but new data from Stellenbosch University shows hyperkalaemia, an electrolyte disorder caused by too much potassium in the blood and which leads to heart attacks, is quite prevalent among those with chronic conditions and one of the major drivers of hospital deaths locally.

The condition, which can come on suddenly, often without warning, was found to be responsible for about 30% of deaths among patients with long-term conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and kidney failure. Researchers found that those with kidney failure are likely to die from it more than any other high-risk group.

Even though there remains a scarcity of data concerning the epidemiology of this condition in Africa, experts hope their comprehensive research at Western Cape’s largest hospital, Tygerberg, will give clinicians better insight into its treatment and mortality risk factors...

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