Home potassium testing?

I’ve been talking with a colleague who’s interested in hypokalemic periodic paralysis, a rare disorder that’s associated with dangerous fluctuations in blood potassium. We’re interested in finding out whether there’s an easy way to test potassium at home in either blood or saliva. The HPP patient community seems to rely on this meter by Horiba, but it’s quite expensive. Is anyone aware of an alternative?

I know that at-home blood analysis is a holy grail for lots of QSers, but potassium is a pretty simple ion and so I’m wondering if there might be clever hacks for detecting that in particular.

We’re working on adding Potassium as a marker to our testing (20Signals). We’re not quite there yet though.

Just out of interest, how much is that device?

I think it’s around $350.

Note that the disease we were talking about, HPP, involves fluctuations in blood and salivary potassium, not a chronically high or low value. That would pose challenges for a mail-in testing model, unless you wanted to develop a protocol specifically for that kind of testing (submitting multiple blood samples for a single test, instead of one sample for a bunch of tests?). That might be interesting, if there are enough similar conditions to provide a market.

any updates on potassium testing at home - notice last discussion referenced 2014?

Hii! We are actually developing a home-based potassium sensor. We are in process to validate the prototype and the market. Could you help me, with your feedback, to validate the needs that you have? Thanks!

The benefit of potassium testing in our particular case would be to prevent cardiac issues. We have existing cardiac issues that require diuretics and medicines that deplete or are potassium sparing.

Cardiac issues resulting from Potassium imbalance would potentiate arrhythmias that can be avoided with a normal potassium balance. In other words by having a normal potassium balance one can avoid potentially life threatening arrhythmias. Often times damage from arrhythmias is done by the time lab tests are done at a physicians visit etc. so having a potassium monitor at home would be fantastic.
If a person takes potassium supplements they can also be at risk for arrhythmas if the value is too high. Drugs like Aldactone can also be a hazard as they are potassium sparing. It would be reassuring to have this ability. Of course like an INR machine at home - one would have to be properly trained and have calibration checks on any system used.

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We would like to test and perhaps write a paper on. Marc Mathys - University of Marburg.

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Thank you very much for replying Arthur.

It is very interesting to see that in both ways, high and low, potassium needs to be controlled. We are actually starting a clinical trial with dialysis patients (easy way to have access to venous blood) in order to validate our prototype in a controlled environment outside the lab. Our device is a paper-based sensor, similar structure as glucometer, connected to a tablet/mobile. So we are developing a low-cost & simple device to be at home, but some physicians see our device in primary care instead of at home. Are you a physician in the field? Do you have any specific pathway/drug treatment example where our device could fit?

My name is Adrià Maceira from CreatSens, I invite you to contact me and discuss about it.

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Marc,

Thank you for the interest. If I am not wrong I send you an e-mail. We are looking for different kinds of collaborations, so let’s talk about it!

If you did not receive my mail, you can contact me in LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/adriamaceirasole/

I would be very interested in devices that could test a number of nutrients in a device that could be used at home. I’m representing a very different market. I’m in the weight training/bodybuilding/ power lifting community/fitness community, and there are a variety of things I would like to know my levels on. The difference here is that my (our) part of this market is quite price sensitive. In terms of these kinds of nutrients, I think fitness folks would care about Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc (the latter two are associated with free testosterone in some small studies and some folks supp them for that reason…in fairly high doses) and well a million other things too. I for one would love to know my levels so I don’t over-compensate. In lifting potassium gets some attention, since deficiency due to excessive sweating and the caloric restriction (and thus food restriction) associated with cutting weight has the potential to drop levels. Once again though, anything like this is a luxury, and most of us will eat an extra banana and and most already take plenty of supplements with probably too much in the way of vitamins/minerals. My interest would mostly be in not over doing it. I don’t imagine anything you would be marketing in the near future would target my chunk of the marketplace.

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I am looking for a trustable home potassium test. I have very unstabil potassium levels and have to controll my potassium at the hostpital several times a week. In my country there is no home potassium testing avalible and nobody have experiens with it, Do you have any advice of what exist in the maked an wich one is most trustable in use? It would help me a lot to get one that works.

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Now at the age of 66 I have been searching for a home Potassium meter and a home Phosphorus meter because I have been classified as pre-dialysis for about 2 years. It is likely that I was born with Vesicoureteral Reflux (VUR) until I had a bilateral ureter re-implantation done in 1983. Over the years I had many urinary tract infections damaging my kidneys. To try to improve my quality of life until stem cells are available to successfully create a new kidney or I eventually develop some other life threatening disease, I would like to be able to measure both potassium and phosphorus or even just potassium to avoid the need for dialysis.
EmilyValerie

Dear Emily,

We are developing CreatSens because we also have friends with similar problems… we are doing our best to provide that tool!

Our project is based on paper-based sensors (glucometer style) for potassium, creatinine, phosphate and lithium. We started our first clinical trial with the potassium sensor with dialysis patients in Barcelona. The results are going well, so we will start our second clinical trial. The cost and the time of the regulatory aspects is what is slowing us down. If you are interested in following our progress, please send me your mail by linkedin and I will keep you informed.

Thank you very much for your feedback, It is very valuable.

Adrià

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I agree with you Stephen, you are targeting a very different market that also requires a deep underestanding of the human intervariability and how the nutrition affects in each case.

I think that price sensitivity is closely related with the country, actually in Spain, people spend more money in fitness (crossfit, gym, running, etc) than in healthcare (mainly because we have a public healthcare system that covers main diseases, and people is not used to pay for healthcare). But I also agree that low-price is essential for a home-care device.

Hmm, well, the research group we are working with is developing sensors for magnesium. The regulatory aspects for your market are much softer than medical devices ones. The problem is that we don’t have the knowledge to develop a product in a market where we don’t have experience. Could you describe me in a more detail your chunk of marketplace?

Best,

Adrià

We are still developing the home-potassium test, until we finish the clinical trials and regulatory validations we would’nt be able to tell you our specifications (error range, amount of blood needed, etc). This is what will make us trustable or not.
I can keep you update if you are interested, you have my linkedin in a post on this discussion.

Best,

Adrià

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Hello, my 12 y/o son was just diagnosed with hypokalemic periodic paralysis. I’m trying to find a meter he can carry with him to test his potassium when he may feel an episode arriving. I know people with diabetes have a finger stick type portable meter. I gotta believe that something exists for my sons condition. Please help!

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Are there any new developments in the home potassium meters? I am hypokalemic and it gets very frustrating having to wait for blood work to come back in order for the Dr.to give me an IV potassium drip. I am on Aldactone and potassium supplements but my body is unable to maintain it. I am in desperate need of one of these meters. Thank you very much much for your time and help.

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Hi, I am very interested in a home potassium meter/test. I have been keeping an eye on this thread for a year now. My father has stage 4 kidney failure. His sodium is usually low, but his potassium always runs high. He is currently 5.7. He has chf, anemia, kidney failure, dementia, etc etc.
Monthly we have to get his blood work done. Creatinine levels would also be great to test for at home, but potassium is definitely our biggest concern.

Having a test for home use would be incredibly helpful to see when he is starting to get high again. We follow a very strict diet for him with all low potassium foods, and amounts yet his kidneys still run high.

Thank you for even considering making a home test for this. I know kidney failure patients, and heart failure patients definitely have a need for it.

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It’s been bothering me that this question about home potassium measurement hasn’t had a good enough answer, so I worked with Dr. Krishna Priya to do some research on the prospects of an assay we can use for our own self-tracking projects. This assay is especially important for people who have problems with kidney function, are on dialysis, or are dealing with heart disease, but it may also have a range of other uses that we’ll learn more about as it becomes more widely accessible. Here’s what I found out.

A NOT TOO COMPLEX BUT EXPENSIVE BLOOD TEST SYSTEM

Potassium can be measured in a number of different ways, all of which have promise for accessible self-measurement tools, but I’ll give the most immediately useful information first, which is that the most immediately accessible tool requires a cartridge lancet blood draw. In this case you need about three drops of blood taken from a finger. A popular and widely accessible (but far from affordable) device available for this purpose is the iStat from Abbott Labs. The i-Stat system is clinically proven (see Papadea et al., 2002) and does not require much clinical training. I would tell you the price, but unfortunately like many medical devices the pricing is opaque. I see supposedly new ones online for prices ranging from $1600 to $15,000. Although these must be different products, they are all have the same or very similar names. I’d appreciate any help that forum members have in sorting this out.

A SUPER PROMISING BUT NOT YET AVAILABLE ECG SYTEM

By far the most promising emerging technology for home potassium measurement is an ECG based assay. There is a direct correlation between changes in blood plasma potassium levels and ECG variations. It has been established that even potassium level fluctuations as low as 0.2mmol/L produced a corresponding quantifiable variation in ECG (see Dillon et al., 2015). An electrode combined with a smart phone was shown to measure potassium levels with 91% efficiency (see Yasin et al., 2017).

This year The Verge reported that long time QS participant Dr. Dave Albert at AliveCor had completed a study with the Mayo Clinic in which their KardiaBand for the Apple Watch succeeded in measuring potassium levels. (See this story: “Apple Watch wristband sensor claims to detect potassium in your blood, without needle, but it doesn’t have FDA approval yet.”) But there is no release date for Potassium testing KardiaBand.

(So, Dr. Dave, can you tell us anything?)

AN OFF LABEL SALIVA BASED TEST OF UNCERTAIN VALIDITY

Potassium can also be measured in saliva. For those of you who enjoy quests of this nature, check out the claims in this document by instrument maker Horiba, based in Singapore, that it’s water quality measurement tool, the Laqua Twin, can also be used for measurement of potassium levels in humans.

See their pamphlet here: Monitoring Human Potassium With Laqua Twin.

It appears that the instrument is available on Amazon, and from the comments some buyers are making use of it for home potassium testing.

See this Amazon link and scroll down for comments: HORIBA LAQUAtwin 3200456566 Model B-731 Compact Potassium Ion Meter.

NEXT STEPS

If any of these pointers are useful for you, please let us know. And definitely let us know if you think we’ve gotten anything wrong, or if you can add any first hand experiences of your own.

PS: I didn’t look too deeply into urine test strips. These exist, but the information was too sketchy for me to easily evaluate.

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Using the ECG to detect Hyperkalemia with high accuracy is an active research collaboration between the Mayo Clinic and AliveCor. We have a paper in review and are preparing our regulatory approach. This will not be commercially available in the short term.