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Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis Causes

Resting after exercise, too much potassium in the diet, fatigue and stress, periods of fasting, as well as certain pollutants may trigger HYPP attacks. Cigarette smoke has also been identified to play a causal role. A mutation in the SCN4A gene has been pinpointed as a possible cause for Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis. This particular gene is responsible for directing the production of a type of protein that is important in muscle movement. For mobility to return to normal, affected muscles must contract and relax in a coordinated way.

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis Definition

Also known as Impressive Syndrome, Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP) is a genetic disorder inherited via autosomal dominancy. In HYPP patients, sodium channels in muscle cells as well as the ability to regulate potassium levels in the blood are affected. While closely associated with horses, this disease also affects humans. In human patients, HYPP is often referred to as Gamstorp episodic adynamy.

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis Diagnosis

A family history of the disorder often leads to suspicion of HYPP. Other clinical cues are intermittent symptoms described by the patient. A potassium test may also reveal some helpful insights.

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis Symptoms and Signs

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis is considered rare in humans, but documented cases include symptoms of extreme muscle weakness. The weakening of the muscles often begins in the second decade and either progresses or stabilizes in the fourth to fifth decade. The progression, however, depends largely on the type and severity of the disorder. HYPP affected patients usually have elevated potassium levels in their blood during attacks, though these levels appear normal in some cases. Absorption or ingestion of potassium can often cause attacks in affected patients, even if blood potassium remains normal. Muscle strength tends to improve between intervals of attacks, but affected patients may experience episodes of muscle weakness as the disease progresses. It is also not uncommon for HYPP affected individuals to feel muscle stiffness and spasms (myotonia) in the affected areas.

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis Treatment

Treatment for HYPP is geared towards symptom relief and prevention of further attacks. In most cases, the severity of the attacks may require emergency care. Weakness, however, worsens with repeated attacks. Therefore, steps must be taken to prevent further attacks as early as possible. During attacks, ingestion of glucose and other carbohydrates may reduce severity. Calcium or diuretics may be administered intravenously to stop sudden attacks.

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