New global survey spotlights a need for better management of hyperkalaemia

Findings show that healthcare professionals value the importance of educating their patients about hyperkalaemia, but patient awareness remains generally low and challenges associated with the management of the condition persist.1

Hyperkalaemia overview

Hyperkalaemia (HK), or high levels of potassium in the blood, is a potentially serious medical condition that is a common complication in both chronic kidney disease (CKD) and heart failure (HF).If left untreated, severe HK can become severe and life-threatening, resulting in additional cardiac complications, including cardiac arrest.3

HK occurs in approximately 24-48% of patients with CKD and/or HF, and often patients have few, if any, symptoms.2,4 A person with CKD or HF could be at risk of HK without even realising it, as if symptoms do appear, they’re typically mild such as muscle weakness, numbness or tingling.2

If HK occurs it must be effectively managed to allow for the continuation of important therapeutic options for people living with CKD or HF.

Our research

At AstraZeneca, we conducted the Global State of Hyperkalaemia survey, an international survey of patients and healthcare providers (HCPs). Through HCP and patient insight, the survey uncovers barriers to effective HK management and highlights where opportunities exist to advance clinical practice and to help transform patient care for people living with CKD and/or HF.  

In early 2021, the survey was fielded to 1,000 patients and 500 HCPs across five countries (Italy, Japan, Spain, UK and US).1

Survey methodology

An online survey was administered to 500 HCPs — 100 in each country included in the research. Of these, 250 HCPs were nephrologists and 250 were cardiologists.

1,000 patients with CKD or HF were also surveyed online — approximately 200 patients per participating country.1

Key findings: The gaps in understanding hyperkalaemia management

The Global State of Hyperkalaemia Survey shows that while HCPs value the importance of educating their patients about HK, awareness remains low among patients and challenges associated with the management of the condition persist.1

Findings highlight that most patients (66%) are not aware that HK is a potential complication of their condition, and, on average, patients only recognised 3 out of 10 symptoms related to HK.1

Interestingly, both nephrologists (75%) and cardiologists (43%) rank HK in their top three complications to manage in patients with CKD or HF. However, only 45% of patients with CKD and 31% of patients with HF recall HK being mentioned as important for their condition.1

However, a lack of awareness among patients does not equate to a lack of interest in the condition. When questioned, most patients (68%) want to learn more about HK from their specialists, but around one-third of HCPs surveyed did not feel comfortable discussing HK with their patients.1

This lack of awareness and belief that HK is difficult to manage could have potentially serious consequences for patients with CKD or HF. That’s why now is the time for action.

Removing barriers to diagnosis and transforming hyperkalaemia treatment  

Among both cardiologists and nephrologists, HK continues to be seen as difficult to treat with only a third (34%) believing HK is easy to manage.1

It is no surprise then that only half of the nephrologists (44%) and cardiologists (41%) surveyed believe that they have clear guidelines on how to classify HK depending on potassium levels.1 This perceived lack of clear guidelines for HCPs, particularly on how to classify HK, may be contributing to perceptions of complexity.1

The Global State of Hyperkalaemia Survey revealed that more information on guidelines and management strategies will be essential to help HCPs effectively manage HK and inform patient care while showing a striking need to increase patient awareness around their symptoms.1

Our commitment

We are committed to using the insights from the Global State of Hyperkalaemia survey to progress our overarching ambition to help transform patient care and empower HCPs to effectively manage HK and help patients live a life less burdened by their disease. 

We are committed to:
Leveraging the findings of the survey to build better awareness of HK among both patients and HCPs to drive earlier diagnosis.

Continuing to champion the robust collection of data for all stages of kidney and cardiovascular disease.

Supporting patients, HCPs, and patient organisations to uncover new approaches capable of transforming care for the millions of people living with CKD and HF around the world.


1. Global State of Hyperkalaemia Survey Key Findings, REF-129958, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP. Veeva ID: Z4-38926. Date of preparation: October 2021.

2. National Kidney Foundation. What is Hyperkalemia?; 2016 [cited 29 Oct 2021]. Available from: URL:

3. Rosano GMC et al. Expert consensus document on the management of hyperkalaemia in patients with cardiovascular disease treated with renin angiotensin aldosterone system inhibitors: Coordinated by the Working Group on Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy of the European Society of Cardiology. Eur Heart J Cardiovasc Pharmacother 2018; 4(3):180–8.

4. Latts LM et al. Hyperkalemia Is Prevalent in Patients with Cardiorenal Comorbidities. presented at: ISPOR 20th Annual International Meeting, 2015 May 16 - 20, Philadelphia PA.


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Veeva ID: Z4-36481
Date of preparation: November 2021