Journal Article Liquorice-induced hypokalaemia in patients treated with Yokukansan preparations: identification of the risk factors in a retrospective cohort study

Shimada, Saori  ,  Arai, Tetsuaki  ,  Tamaoka, Akira  ,  Homma, Masato

7 ( 6 )  , p.e014218 , 2017-06 , BMJ Publishing Group
Objective To evaluate serum potassium levels and rates of hypokalaemia in patients treated with liquorice-containing Japanese traditional Kampo-medicines Yokukansan (YK) and Yokukansan-ka-chinpihange (YKCH).Design Retrospective cohort study.Setting Patients receiving YK preparations for dementia and other psychiatric disorders in the University of Tsukuba Hospital in Japan.Participants 389 patients (male/female: 174/215, 68.6±16.1 years) were treated with YK preparations for 231 days (range 6–2788 days). Patients whose potassium levels were <3.6 mEq/L before administration of YK preparations, and drug non-compliant patients, were excluded.Main outcome measure The occurrence rate of hypokalaemia and assessment of the risk factors for YK preparation-induced hypokalaemia.Results Of the 389 patients treated with YK preparations, 94 (24.2%) developed hypokalaemia (potassium levels <3.6 mEq/L) 34 days (range 1–1600 days) after administration of the preparations. 36 (38.3%) patients had co-administration with lower potassium-inducing drugs (LPIDs; diuretics, glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids and glycyrrhizin), which was more frequent in the patients without hypokalaemia (17.3%) (p<0.05). A Cox proportional hazard model identified four risk factors for hypokalaemia: YK administration (not YKCH) (HR 3.093, 95% CI 1.408 to 6.798), co-administration of LPIDs (HR 2.743, 95% CI 1.754 to 4.289), hypoalbuminaemia at baseline (HR 2.145, 95% 1.360 to 3.384), and full dosage administration (7.5 g/day) (HR 1.600, 95% CI 1.005 to 2.549).Conclusions Serum potassium monitoring should be done at least monthly in patients with the following risk factors: LPID co-administration, YK administration, hypoalbuminaemia, and full dosage administration.

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