Last updated: Monday, 13, December, 2010
CausesAppropriate Tests

Artefactual result including



  • Thrombocytosis
  • Leucocytosis (marked)

Spurious increase in serum potassium is common, especially if there is haemolysis during the collection or any delay in separation and/or refrigeration of blood.
See Table 1. Artefactual results.
Another specimen should be collected if spurious hyperkalaemia is suspected.
A repeat specimen should be collected in lithium heparin, for plasma potassium.

Renal failure


Hyperkalaemia can occur in the presence of total body potassium deficiency, particularly if acidosis is present.

Adrenocortical insufficiency, especially 

  • Addison’s disease
  • Hypoaldosteronism
Particularly if there is associated renal impairment.

Drug-induced, especially

  • NSAIDs
  • Potassium sparing diuretics, including
    • Amiloride
    • Spironolactone
  • Potassium supplements
  • ACE inhibitors, especially,
    • Captopril

Cellular injury, especially

  • Severe burns
  • Crush injury
  • Acute severe haemolysis


See Rhabdomyolysis under Myoglobinuria
See Haemoglobinuria