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Can Low Potassium Cause an Irregular Heartbeat?

by
author image Alyssa Clement
Alyssa Clement holds Bachelor's degrees in psychology and nutrition. She has completed clinical nutrition internships in long-term care and acute care along with food service and community nutrition internships. Her research includes nutrition supplements, weight loss, exercise and sports nutrition.
Can Low Potassium Cause an Irregular Heartbeat?
Man having his heart rate checked by doctor. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Low potassium, or hypokalemia, is a lower than normal amount of potassium in the blood. You consume potassium through food, and your body needs it for cells to balance fluids. According to MedlinePlus, several factors can cause low potassium levels. These include diuretics, laxatives, diarrhea, vomiting, bulimia, sweating and low magnesium levels.

Heartbeat and Low Potassium

The University of Maryland Medical Center states that low potassium levels may cause irregular heartbeats. Other symptoms of low potassium levels are low energy, weakness and stomach pains. If levels become too low, you may feel lightheaded, have slow heartbeats or even die from your heart stopping. Low potassium levels are usually due to excretion through urine or the intestines rather than not getting enough from food. The condition is serious and needs treatment by a doctor.

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