Low sodium salt may pose hyperkalaemia risk

21 July, 2011

Use of low sodium salt may lead to high potassium levels (hyperkalaemia) in patients with reduced kidney function or taking particular drugs, warn doctors in a letter to this week’s BMJ.

Dr Alexandra Dent and colleagues at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary describe the case of a man in his 80s who was admitted to their hospital with complications of diabetes.

During admission his blood potassium levels increased to 6.9 mmol/L (normal levels are between 3.5 and 5.0 mmol/L) and he did not respond to treatment for his raised potassium. High levels of potassium can be fatal.

However, he was noticed to add three to four sachets of Solo to his meals.

Solo is a reduced sodium salt, marketed as a healthy alternative to sea salt and sanctioned by medical professionals to contain "near perfect" proportions of sodium, potassium, and magnesium. The product site quotes a study of 100 participants that reported a drop in blood pressure in those receiving a mineral salt rather than common table salt.

After withdrawing Solo, the patient’s potassium levels fell to 5.3 mmol/L.

"Although Solo can reduce blood pressure, it is a potential risk factor for developing hyperkalaemia in vulnerable patients," warn the authors.

"Outpatients with diabetes have also been found to have high potassium values, which have fallen after advice cautioning ingestion of this supplement," they add. "Clinicians need to be aware of this risk when advising patients with low salt diets."

Source: BMJ