Potassium: An Element to Love

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Ever chase a patients potassium? Of course, you have…we all have nibbled our fingernails over the ever-changing potassium. So when do you worry? Here are a few questions to contemplate: true or false?

Hypokalemia is associated with hypomagnesemia.

Encourage repletion with potassium-rich foods rather than pills.

The total body deficit is always more than you think.

If the potassium is less than 3.0 meq/L and the QTc is approaching 500 msec, the patient should be admitted for repletion.

Tune into the August EMRAP podcast called: Electrolyte Emergencies – Part 1: All Things Potassium by Rob Orman MD and Corey Slovis MD for the answers.

Who Knew? Potassium was the first metal that was isolated by electrolysis by Sir Humphry Davy in 1807.

Don’t Let Pediatric Tachycardia Get Your Heart Racing

Early ECG machine. Photo from Wikipedia.

According to Medscape, an online medical information site: “a heart rate of more than 160 beats per minute in infants and a respiratory rate of more than 60 per minute are associated with an increased mortality risk and often signal the development of septic shock.”

The May EM:RAP Pediatric Pearls podcast by Dr. Ilene Claudius, Dr. Sol Behar, Dr. James Salway and Dr. Liza Kearl offers prudent advice on differentiating respiratory from cardiac sources of pediatric tachycardia. Or pull up the PDF and have a fast read of the bullet points to keep your rate in check and your knowledge bounding.

Who Knew? Willem Einthoven, working in Leiden, the Netherlands, used the string galvanometer (the first practical electrocardiograph) he invented in 1901 which was more sensitive than previous 1870s inventions. He assigned the letters P, Q, R, S, and T to the waveform deflections. (Wikipedia)