May 1st marked National High Potassium Awareness Day, an effort to raise awareness of normal potassium (K+) levels for those living with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Along with organizations like the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP), we are spreading the word about the potentially serious effects of high potassium—also known as hyperkalemia (HK)—and the recurrent nature of HK, particularly in people with advanced CKD.
Patients with advanced CKD—or, CKD warriors—may face an elevated risk of high potassium levels because their kidneys can’t remove excess potassium in their blood. For CKD warriors who are on dialysis—which can help to lower potassium levels during treatment—levels can increase between sessions. This may result in serious health issues including weakness, nausea, potentially fatal irregular heartbeats and paralysis.
To manage high potassium levels, patients are often advised to limit the potassium in their diets, but this can be difficult without accompanying resources and management options. With the many challenges faced by people living with CKD—particularly over the last year—it is critical we work together to ensure every CKD warrior has access to the essential tools and resources that will give them opportunity to thrive.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated serious issues related to food availability, access to kidney-friendly foods, and the ability to maintain a safe, nutritional balance. This has been especially true for those at-risk and suffering from kidney disease, and in particular, among people living in ‘food deserts,’ those who may be over reliant on processed foods and without access to nutrition education resources. AAKP is committed to battling against dangerously high potassium levels and we welcome the opportunity to share new educational resources through our annual “Are You O-K+” campaign raising awareness of National High Potassium Awareness Day.
Adding potassium management to the list of things CKD warriors have to worry about can be overwhelming and disheartening—but there’s hope. Through education, we may empower those impacted by this disease to seek treatment, restore a sense of self-control and work towards potentially lowering the risk of high potassium-related events. Talking to a doctor is often a helpful first step to discover how to manage potassium levels and feel more in control. Additional tools and resources can be accessed through programs like Unfiltered Kidney Conversations, the American Kidney Fund’s Beyond Bananas and AAKP’s website.
Let’s continue the momentum from National High Potassium Awareness day by learning and sharing knowledge about this issue. Together, we can inspire others and work towards a better, brighter future in potassium management for millions of CKD warriors. For information on National High Potassium Awareness Day 2022, follow @areyouok5point1 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!