Potassium conundrum

My old Marine has been undergoing various tests to determine the cause (s) of his current gut problems; no answers yet.  Along the way, he has been warned about recent high blood pressure spikes and kidney function problems which include high potassium (hyperkalemia).  His last potassium reading was high enough to be told to go the ER to get checked out; his other  tests were mainly okay.  Why the insistence on a trip the ER? It turns out that too much potassium can slow or stop hearts.  These facts, and the words “acute and chronic kidney failure” on his problem list have our attention.

The only dietary advice he received was to cut out foods like bananas so I’ve had to analyse and change our menus by consulting online renal diets from authorities.

The VA’s Kidney eClinic website (LINK) provides basic information with a focus on DMII and high blood pressure and self-care.

Click screenshot to go to this site.

The site states that VA issues BP cuff by request.  Within a few days, he received a really good cuff.  An unpleasant thing about all of this is that his kidney numbers haven’t been too good for quite awhile but his PC docs didn’t deliver the bad news–VA or non-VA doctors–even though he has DMII.

Image from VA-issued blood pressure cuff.

Our “Mediterranean” diet no longer controls his DMII either.  Someone is cranky about all the new dietary restrictions to add to the old ones but adaptation is essential as we age.

I used to think of food ingredients as, well, food.  Something comforting and good like mashed potatoes.  Now I think of it as chemical compounds we ingest–beware.  Cooking potatoes, if at all, is a whole new experience.  Blah….



About Laura

NW Vermont.
This entry was posted in Agent Orange, All about Veterans, Food for thought, General Messages, Guest authors, non-va care, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized, VA Health Care, Vietnam Disease Issues and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Potassium conundrum

  1. Jim Orpin says:

    I had a very Good friend and Dr that passed away when his Potassium Bottomed out. When you are our age you must keep an eye on everything, and write it down.

  2. Fred Marvin says:

    My wife who was exposed to Agent Orange in her home of Thailand has the same problem and it took more than five years having Type II Diabetes to it to come to the attention of doctors. She also has 20 percent kidney function, Sjogren’s Syndrome, and post-therappetic pain from shingles 25 months ago. The kidney doctor took her off Losartan (potassium) which is one of three blood pressure medications she is taking and increased her dosage of Carvedilol. I also have a 10 percent disability from Agent Orange, having been stationed at NKP Thailand for five years. So far I have not had problems with high blood pressure or diabetes, but have peripheral vein disease for which I am filing also. As to the potassium, all those green vegetables full of potassium are needed to help the diabetes stay stable, but with deficient kidney function, the body cannot eliminate the excess potassium from the blood. Thus, this combination of diseases brings up the catch-22 situation.

    • Kiedove says:

      “Catch-22 situation”–so true. Also with low sodium diets which are often high in K.
      Yup, my husband encountered AO in Vietnam and the aftereffects keep coming for so many. I hope your wife will be able to slow the disease down now.
      How often should someone have labs for CKD based on the various stages?
      I think doctors are so busy, they may not order enough labs ; or perhaps Medicare and VA don’t want to pay for them.
      The husband has joined me with my daily breakfast of oatmeal with diced apple–a legal fruit–instead of cold cereals with milk. That may be helping. Dropping the Lipitor too, which he doesn’t even need. His lipids have been good after dropping flesh foods like red meat and sticking with chicken breasts years ago. Statins are tricky for a lot of people.

  3. They tell me to drink more water………………

    • Kiedove says:

      Thank you for the tip. Water seems like a logical safe helper but how much is optimal, I wonder? No one has laid out a practical plan of action for him yet.

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