Rapid changes in plasma potassium during a game of squash

A. D. Struthers, C. Quigley, M. J. Brown

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    1. The game of squash has recently been associated with a high incidence of ventricular arrhythmias and sudden death. To investigate this further, plasma catecholamines and potassium (K+) were monitored during a game of squash in six normal volunteers. 2. No cardiac arrhythmias were seen in this study despite the subjects reaching maximum heart rates of 181 ± 5 beats/min (mean ± sem). 3. During exercise, plasma K+ rose from 3.82 ± 0.16 to 4.29 ±0.2 mmol/l, but after 90 s rest this fell to 3.68 ± 0.28 mmol/l and after 180 s to 3.44 ± 0.17 mmol/l. This rapid K+ shift could not be accounted for by generalized changes in venous acid-base status or by changes in venous plasma catecholamines. Although pretreatment with a ß 2-antagonist caused the overall plasma K+ levels to be higher, it had no significant effect on the fall in plasma K+ after exercise. 4. Such rapid K+ shifts after exercise might contribute to arrhythmogenesis in susceptible individuals. The precise mechanism of the fall in K+ after exercise remains undetermined, but it seems not to involve catecholamines stimulating ß 2-adrenoceptors and is more likely to be due to increased skeletal muscle blood flow and/or intracellular acidosis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)397-401
    Number of pages5
    JournalClinical Science
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1988


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