Potassium is a crucial electrolyte responsible for the resting phase of muscles. On the other hand, bilirubin is the by-product of red blood cell breakdown found in bile. Under normal circumstances, these two substances would not be compared, except in terms of the heart. Symptoms such as heart flutters and shortness of breath are more commonly associated with potassium imbalances, but according to a study published in the journal "Clinical Chemistry" low bilirubin may present with its own cardiac symptoms.
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Symptoms of Low Potassium
According to "Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine," low potassium levels present with a wide variety of symptoms including constipation, fatigue and muscle cramps. The most dangerous symptoms deal with the heart. Low levels of potassium cause the lower chambers of the heart to become irritable and fire electrical impulses spontaneously, resulting in the symptoms of heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Low potassium levels are dangerous and can lead to death if left untreated.
Symptoms of Low Bilirubin
Unlike low potassium, low levels of bilirubin do not have any direct symptoms. Rather the symptoms arise from other conditions which are in part prevented by normal bilirubin levels. According to a study published in "Clinical Chemistry," bilirubin is more than just a blood by-product; it acts like an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Low bilirubin levels are associated with coronary artery disease, inflammation and arteriosclerosis. Thus, decreased bilirubin levels are associated with angina, which is caused by coronary artery disease and arteriosclerosis as well as inflammation.
Always consult with your physician first concerning your health. Low potassium is a serious condition that, if untreated, leads to death. Notify your provider immediately if you experience any symptom of muscle weakness, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- "Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine" 17th ed.; Dr. Anthony Fauci et al., eds.; 2008
- "2007 Current Consult Medicine"; Drs. Maxine Papadakis and Stephen McPhee ; 2007
- "Rapid Interpretation of EKG's"; Dr. Dale Dubin; 2000
- "Clinical Chemistry"; Is Low Serum Bilirubin an Independent Risk Factor for Coronary Artery Disease in Men but Not Women?; Dr. Georg Endler; 2003
- Milton S. Hershey Medical Center at Penn State University: Low Potassium