- The major positive ion (cation) found inside of cells. The chemical notation for potassium is K+. The proper level of potassium is essential for normal cell function. An abnormal increase of potassium (hyperkalemia) or decrease of potassium (hypokalemia) can profoundly affect the nervous system and heart, and when extreme, can be fatal. The normal blood potassium level is 3.5 - 5.0 milliEquivalents/liter (mEq/L), or in international units, 3.5 - 5.0 millimoles/liter (mmol/L).
* * *An alkaline metallic element, atomic no. 19, atomic wt. 39.0983, occurring abundantly in nature but always in combination; its salts are used medicinally. For organic p. salts not listed below, see the name of the anion. SYN: kalium. [Mod. L., fr. Eng. potash (fr. pot + ashes) + -ium]- p. aminosalicylate p-aminosalicylic acid.- p. antimonyltartrate SYN: antimony p. tartrate.- p. bicarbonate used as a diuretic to decrease the acidity of the urine and as an electrolyte replenisher.- p. chlorate chlorate of potash, KClO3, used as a mouthwash and gargle in stomatitis and follicular pharyngitis; it is incompatible in the dry state with all easily oxidizable substances.- p. citrate a deliquescent powder, soluble in water; used as a diuretic, diaphoretic, expectorant, and systemic and urinary alkalizer. SYN: Rivière salt.- p. dichromate, p. bichromate used externally as an astringent, antiseptic, and caustic; a strong oxidizing agent to be handled with care.- effervescent p. citrate a mixture of p. citrate, citric acid, sodium bicarbonate, and tartaric acid; used as a gastric antacid and urinary alkalizer.- p. ferrocyanide yellow prussiate of potash, used in the preparation of various cyanides and in medicine as an antidote to copper sulfate.- p. guaiacolsulfonate used as an expectorant.- p. hypophosphite formerly believed to have a tonic effect upon the nervous system; may be explosive if triturated or heated with oxidizing agents.- p. metaphosphate a pharmaceutic aid (buffer).- p. nitrate sometimes used as a diuretic and diaphoretic; formerly it was included in asthmatic powders containing stramonium leaves. SYN: niter, saltpeter.- penicillin G p. penicillin G p..- p. perchlorate occasionally used, as an alternative to a thiouracil derivative, in the control of hyperthyroidism.- p. permanganate a strong oxidizing agent, used in solution as an antiseptic and deodorizing application for foul lesions, and formerly as a gastric lavage in poisoning from morphine, strychnine, aconite, and picrotoxin; in electron microscopy, it stains cytomembranes well and gives results similar to lead hydroxide staining; also used as a fixative (Luft).- p. phosphate a mild saline cathartic and diuretic. SYN: dibasic p. phosphate, dipotassium phosphate.- p. sodium tartrate a mild saline cathartic, used as an ingredient in compound effervescent powders. SYN: Rochelle salt, Seignette salt, sodium p. tartrate.- p. thiocyanate formerly used in the treatment of essential hypertension and as a reagent in the detection of copper, iron, and silver. SYN: p. rhodanate, p. sulfocyanate.
* * *po·tas·si·um pə-'tas-ē-əm n a silver-white soft light low-melting monovalent metallic element of the alkali metal group that occurs abundantly in nature esp. combined in minerals symbol K see ELEMENT (table)
* * *n.a mineral element and an important constituent of the human body. It is the main base ion of intracellular fluid. Together with sodium, it helps to maintain the electrical potential of the nervous system and is thus essential for the functioning of nerve and muscle. Normal blood levels are between 3.5 and 5 mmols/litre. High concentrations occur particularly in kidney failure and may lead to arrhythmia and finally to cardiac arrest. Low values result from fluid loss, e.g. due to vomiting or diarrhoea, and this may lead to general muscle paralysis. Symbol: K.
* * *po·tas·si·um (K) (pə-tasґe-əm) a metallic element of the alkali group, many of whose salts are used in medicine. It is a soft, silver-white metal, melting at 58°F; atomic number, 19; atomic weight, 39.102; specific gravity, 0.87. Potassium is the chief cation of muscle and most other cells (intracellular fluid); see also sodium-potassium pump, under pump.
Medical dictionary. 2011.