Potassium is the major cation of the intracellular fluid. Decreases in extracellular potassium are characterized by muscle weakness, irritability, and eventual paralysis. Cardiac effects include tachycardia, other cardiac conduction abnormalities that are apparent by electrocardiographic examination, and eventual cardiac arrest..Hypokalemia (low potassium) is common in vomiting, diarrhea, alcoholism, and folic acid deficiency. Abnormally high extracellular potassium levels produce symptoms of mental confusion; weakness, numbness, and tingling of the extremities; weakness of the respiratory muscles; flaccid paralysis of the extremities; slowed heart rate; and eventually peripheral vascular collapse and cardiac arrest.
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