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Concept: Hypokalemia


Current goals in the acute treatment of heart failure are focused on pulmonary and systemic decongestion with loop diuretics as the cornerstone of therapy. Despite rapid relief of symptoms in patients with acute decompensated heart failure, after intravenous use of loop diuretics, the use of these agents has been consistently associated with adverse events, including hypokalemia, azotemia, hypotension, and increased mortality. Two recent randomized trials have shown that continuous infusions of loop diuretics did not offer benefit but were associated with adverse events, including hyponatremia, prolonged hospital stay, and increased rate of readmissions. This is probably due to the limitations of congestion evaluation as well as to the deleterious effects linked to drug administration, particularly at higher dosage. The impaired renal function often associated with this treatment is not extensively explored and could deserve more specific studies. Several questions remain to be answered about the best diuretic modality administration, global clinical impact during acute and post-discharge period, and the role of renal function deterioration during treatment. Thus, if loop diuretics are a necessary part of the treatment for acute heart failure, then there must be an approach that allows personalization of therapy for optimal benefit and avoidance of adverse events.

Concepts: Renal failure, Kidney, Nephrology, Heart failure, Diuretic, Hypokalemia, Loop diuretic, Acute decompensated heart failure


We report a unique case of diabetic ketoacidosis in which a relatively low potassium level on admission was associated with consequent life-threatening and refractory arrhythmia secondary to inappropriate use of intravenous insulin and bicarbonate therapy. The latter was reversed by rapid bolus potassium injection. Although we do not advocate this approach in every case, we emphasise that a bolus injection of potassium may be life saving in such cases. The lessons from this case have led to multidisciplinary meetings and modification of the institute’s diabetic ketoacidosis clinical pathway.

Concepts: Diabetes mellitus, Diabetes mellitus type 1, Medical emergencies, Cardiac arrest, Hypodermic needle, Ketoacidosis, Diabetic ketoacidosis, Hypokalemia


BACKGROUND: Animal studies have shown that two repeated intramuscular injections of acidic saline induce mechanical allodynia that lasts for 4 weeks with spread to the contralateral side. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that two repeated intramuscular infusions of acidic saline into the human masseter muscle is associated with pain, mechanical allodynia and release of algesic substances. Eighteen healthy volunteers participated. On day 1, 2.5 mL of acidic saline (pH 3.3) was infused into one of the masseter muscles and isotonic saline (pH 6.0) into the other (randomized and single-blind). Two days later, intramuscular microdialysis was performed to sample serotonin, glutamate, pyruvate, lactate and glucose, during which the saline infusions were repeated. Pain and pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) were recorded before and after infusions on both days. RESULTS: Pain intensity induced by the infusions was higher after acidic than that after isotonic saline (p < 0.05). PPTs were decreased on both sides after microdialysis compared with baseline day 1 (p's < 0.05), but there were no differences in PPTs between sides at any time point. The levels of serotonin, glutamate, pyruvate, lactate or glucose did not change significantly during microdialysis. CONCLUSION: Infusion of acidic saline caused low levels of muscle pain, but no mechanical allodynia and no increased release of algesic substances. The value of this model appears modest, but future studies could be performed with larger sample size and higher flow rate before definite conclusions about the validity of the model for craniofacial myalgia can be drawn.

Concepts: Sample size, Muscle, Lactic acid, Peripheral neuropathy, Infusion, Hypokalemia, Myalgia, Masseter muscle


Prevention of recurrent calcium stone disease includes treatment with thiazide and thiazide-type diuretics to reduce urinary calcium (UCa) levels, with the reduction in UCa correlating with risk of stone recurrence. There has been a recent trend of using lower doses of these medications and change from chlorthalidone (CTL) use to hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) use. It is unknown whether low doses of HCTZ are effective in lowering UCa levels to target levels. We hypothesize that HCTZ is associated with less reduction in UCa than is CTL when comparing currently used doses. Retrospective observational study of stone-formers was seen in metabolic stone clinic during a 3 years period. Data included patient demographics, co-morbidities, and 24 h urine electrolyte composition. Primary outcome was the change in 24 h UCa. 322 patients were identified with 112 meeting criteria and used in analysis. The majority were placed on HCTZ (n = 42) or CTL (n = 47) 25 mg QD. Patients on CTL 25 mg had a greater reduction in UCa (164 mg; 41 %) than those on HCTZ (85 mg; 21 %), p = 0.01. Neither CTL nor HCTZ at 12.5 mg QD significantly lowered UCa. There was a decrease in serum [K] of 0.5 Meq/L (p = 0.001) in patients on CTL 25 mg daily, but no significant difference in severe hypokalemia or arrhythmia compared to HCTZ. Our data show that CTL is associated with greater reduction in 24 h UCa compared to similarly dosed HCTZ.

Concepts: Kidney, Observational study, Urinary bladder, Urethra, Gout, Diuretic, Hydrochlorothiazide, Hypokalemia


: Unfortunately, patients with congestive heart failure suffer frequent admissions for the management of fluid overload. Loop diuretics are pivotal in the management of this common clinical problem. Although loop diuretics have been in clinical use since the 1960s, we still do not understand how to optimally administer these drugs. It is unknown why some decompensated heart failure patients exhibit improvements in renal function with diuresis, whereas others display renal function deterioration, limiting attainment of euvolemia. Here the physiologic interactions between the failing heart and kidneys are reviewed. A conceptual framework is presented that emphasizes the balance between tubuloglomerular feedback and venous congestion in determining renal function during loop diuretic use in heart failure. Within this framework, guidelines are derived that seek to maximize the chance for achieving adequate volume removal while maintaining stable or improved renal function during the treatment of acute decompensated heart failure.

Concepts: Renal failure, Nephrology, Hypertension, Heart failure, Diuretic, Hypokalemia, Loop diuretic, Acute decompensated heart failure


PURPOSE: To collect available clinical data to define the role of diuretics and lipid formulations in the prevention of amphotericin B (AmB)-induced nephrotoxicity (AIN) in human populations. METHOD: A literature search was performed in the following databases: Scopus, Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: Co-administration of mannitol failed to show any clinically significant benefit in preventing AIN. Potassium-sparing diuretics, such as amiloride and spironolactone, have been shown to have beneficial effects as an alternative or adjunct to oral/parenteral potassium supplements in preventing hypokalemia due to AmB. Lipid-based formulations of AmB are clinically effective and safe in preventing AIN. However, due to their high cost and limited accessibility, these formulations are generally used as second-line antifungal therapy in cases of conventional AmB refractoriness and/or intolerance or pre-existing renal dysfunction. The potential effects of other nephroprotective agents, such as N-acetylcysteine, AIN merit further considerations and investigations.

Concepts: Hypertension, Amphotericin B, Spironolactone, Potassium-sparing diuretic, Diuretic, Aldosterone antagonist, Hypokalemia, Hyperkalemia


Background Talaromyces marneffei infection is a major cause of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-related death in South and Southeast Asia. Guidelines recommend initial treatment with amphotericin B deoxycholate, but this drug has substantial side effects, a high cost, and limited availability. Itraconazole is available in oral form, is associated with fewer unacceptable side effects than amphotericin, and is widely used in place of amphotericin; however, clinical trials comparing these two treatments are lacking. Methods In this open-label, noninferiority trial, we randomly assigned 440 HIV-infected adults who had talaromycosis, confirmed by either microscopy or culture, to receive either intravenous amphotericin B deoxycholate (amphotericin) (219 patients), at a dose of 0.7 to 1.0 mg per kilogram of body weight per day, or itraconazole capsules (221 patients), at a dose of 600 mg per day for 3 days, followed by 400 mg per day, for 11 days; thereafter, all the patients received maintenance therapy with itraconazole. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality at week 2. Secondary outcomes included all-cause mortality at week 24, the time to clinical resolution of talaromycosis, early fungicidal activity, relapse of talaromycosis, development of the immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS), and the side-effect profile. Results The risk of death at week 2 was 6.5% in the amphotericin group and 7.4% in the itraconazole group (absolute risk difference, 0.9 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], -3.9 to 5.6; P<0.001 for noninferiority); however, the risk of death at week 24 was 11.3% in the amphotericin group and 21.0% in the itraconazole group (absolute risk difference, 9.7 percentage points; 95% CI, 2.8 to 16.6; P=0.006). Treatment with amphotericin was associated with significantly faster clinical resolution and fungal clearance and significantly lower rates of relapse and IRIS than itraconazole. The patients who received amphotericin had significantly higher rates of infusion-related reactions, renal failure, hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, and anemia than patients in the itraconazole group. Conclusions Amphotericin was superior to itraconazole as initial treatment for talaromycosis with respect to 6-month mortality, clinical response, and fungicidal activity. (Funded by the Medical Research Council and others; IVAP Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN59144167 .).

Concepts: HIV, Immune system, Pharmacology, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Medical statistics, Adverse effect, Hypokalemia


Although loop diuretics are the most commonly used drugs in acute heart failure (AHF) treatment, their short-term and long-term effects are relatively unknown. The significance of worsening renal function occurrence during intravenous treatment is not clear enough. This trial aims to clarify all these features and contemplate whether continuous infusion is better than an intermittent strategy in terms of decongestion efficacy, diuretic efficiency, renal function, and long-term prognosis.

Concepts: Hypertension, Economics, Caffeine, Term, Diuretic, Pulmonary edema, Hypokalemia, Loop diuretic


Patients with diabetic nephropathy develop nephrotic syndrome, and may show limited response to conventional therapy. They often require earlier initiation of renal replacement therapy because they become refractory to diuretics, and experience excessive fluid retention. We aimed to investigate the efficacy of tolvaptan, an oral arginine vasopressin type 2 receptor antagonist, in a case series of 14 severe diabetic renal failure patients who were severely refractory to maximal doses of furosemide and had excessive fluid retention despite preserved cardiac function and residual renal function. All 14 patients experienced immediate and sustained water diuretic effects, resulting in alleviation of congestive heart failure. None required initiation of renal replacement therapy. Tolvaptan promptly increased urine volume and free water clearance, reversed progressive fluid retention, and alleviated congestive heart failure. Thus, tolvaptan could serve as a potential adjunct therapy for severe diabetic renal failure patients with excessive fluid retention and congestive heart failure.

Concepts: Renal failure, Kidney, Nephrology, Hypertension, Urine, Renal physiology, Diabetes insipidus, Hypokalemia


Background Hyperkalemia increases the risk of death and limits the use of inhibitors of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) in high-risk patients. We assessed the safety and efficacy of patiromer, a nonabsorbed potassium binder, in a multicenter, prospective trial. Methods Patients with chronic kidney disease who were receiving RAAS inhibitors and who had serum potassium levels of 5.1 to less than 6.5 mmol per liter received patiromer (at an initial dose of 4.2 g or 8.4 g twice a day) for 4 weeks (initial treatment phase); the primary efficacy end point was the mean change in the serum potassium level from baseline to week 4. Eligible patients at the end of week 4 (those with a baseline potassium level of 5.5 to <6.5 mmol per liter in whom the level decreased to 3.8 to <5.1 mmol per liter) entered an 8-week randomized withdrawal phase in which they were randomly assigned to continue patiromer or switch to placebo; the primary efficacy end point was the between-group difference in the median change in the serum potassium level over the first 4 weeks of that phase. Results In the initial treatment phase, among 237 patients receiving patiromer who had at least one potassium measurement at a scheduled visit after day 3, the mean (±SE) change in the serum potassium level was -1.01±0.03 mmol per liter (P<0.001). At week 4, 76% (95% confidence interval, 70 to 81) of the patients had reached the target potassium level (3.8 to <5.1 mmol per liter). Subsequently, 107 patients were randomly assigned to patiromer (55 patients) or placebo (52 patients) for the randomized withdrawal phase. The median increase in the potassium level from baseline of that phase was greater with placebo than with patiromer (P<0.001); a recurrence of hyperkalemia (potassium level, ≥5.5 mmol per liter) occurred in 60% of the patients in the placebo group as compared with 15% in the patiromer group through week 8 (P<0.001). Mild-to-moderate constipation was the most common adverse event (in 11% of the patients); hypokalemia occurred in 3%. Conclusions In patients with chronic kidney disease who were receiving RAAS inhibitors and who had hyperkalemia, patiromer treatment was associated with a decrease in serum potassium levels and, as compared with placebo, a reduction in the recurrence of hyperkalemia. (Funded by Relypsa; OPAL-HK number, NCT01810939 ).

Concepts: Chronic kidney disease, Kidney, Nephrology, Hypertension, Arithmetic mean, Potassium, Hypokalemia, Hyperkalemia