Drug for high potassium linked with increase in serious gastrointestinal injury

June 26, 2019

Dr. Manish SoodA study led by Dr. Manish Sood found an increased rate of severe gastrointestinal injury among patients taking sodium polystyrene sulfonate (SPS) to treat high potassium levels, a symptoms of chronic kidney disease. The drug was associated with a 0.2 percent rate of gastrointestinal injury 30 days after prescribing, compared to a 0.1 percent rate among similar patients not taking the drug. While the increased risk is small (1 in 1000), the injuries, including lack of blood flow, blood clots, ulcers and perforations, can be life-threatening. This was the first study to examine SPS and gastrointestinal injury at a population level. The research team compared 20,000 SPS users with 20,000 similar non-users. They found 37 gastrointestinal injuries in SPS users versus 18 events in non-users. The findings suggest health care providers should inform patients of the risks of SPS and consider alternatives treatments for high potassium. “This study could change how physicians treat high potassium by opting for lower-risk treatments,” said Dr. Sood. 

Source: JAMA Internal Medicine

Core Resources: The Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (uOttawa and Western)

Funding: Research at The Ottawa Hospital is possible because of generous donations to The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. The study was also funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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