Sodium bicarbonate administration and subsequent potassium concentration in hyperkalemia treatment

Academic Article


  • Background: Hyperkalemia is an electrolyte disorder commonly encountered in the emergency department that can result in significant morbidity and mortality. While sodium bicarbonate is often used for acute lowering of serum potassium, its efficacy is not well established. The purpose of this study was to evaluate and quantify the amount of potassium reduction in emergency department patients who received intravenous sodium bicarbonate as part of treatment for hyperkalemia compared with those who did not. Methods: A retrospective electronic chart review was conducted on adult patients who presented to the emergency department with initial potassium concentration greater than or equal to 5.4 mMol/L and received intravenous insulin as part of hyperkalemia treatment. Patients who received intravenous sodium bicarbonate in addition to intravenous insulin were included in the sodium bicarbonate group. The control group included patients who did not receive intravenous sodium bicarbonate. The primary objective of this study was to compare the absolute reduction in serum potassium between initial and second concentrations in patients from the sodium bicarbonate group and those in the control group. Results: A total of 106 patients were included in this study with 38 patients in the sodium bicarbonate group and 68 patients in the control group. Median initial potassium concentration was 6.6 mMol/L in the sodium bicarbonate group and 6.1 mMol/L in the control group (P = 0.009). Absolute reduction of potassium at first repeat was 1 and 0.9 mMol/L in sodium bicarbonate group and control group respectively (P = 0.976). Conclusions: The addition of sodium bicarbonate therapy to intravenous insulin in the treatment of hyperkalemia did not offer statistically significant added efficacy in potassium lowering. Larger studies are needed to further validate the result findings.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Geng S; Green EF; Kurz MC; Rivera JV
  • Start Page

  • 132
  • End Page

  • 135
  • Volume

  • 50