Electrolyte Blood Press.  2012 Dec;10(1):18-25. 10.5049/EBP.2012.10.1.18.

Etiology of Hypokalemic Paralysis in Korea: Data from a Single Center

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea. wonkid@chollian.net


Recognizing the underlying causes of hypokalemic paralysis seems to be essential for the appropriate management of affected patients and their prevention of recurrent attacks. There is, however, a paucity of documented reports on the etiology of hypokalemic paralysis in Korea. We retrospectively analyzed 34 patients with acute flaccid weakness due to hypokalaemia who were admitted during the 5-year study period in order to determine the spectrum of hypokalemic paralysis in Korea and to identify the differences in clinical parameters all across the causes of hypokalemic paralysis. We divided those 34 patients into 3 groups; the 1st group, idiopathic hypokalemic periodic paralysis (HPP), the 2nd, thyrotoxic periodic paralysis (TPP), and the 3rd group, secondary hypokalemic paralysis (HP) without TPP. Seven of the patients (20.6%) were diagnosed as idiopathic HPP considered the sporadic form, and 27 patients (79.4%) as secondary HP. Among the patients diagnosed as secondary HP, 16 patients (47.1%) had TPP. Patients of secondary hypokalemic paralysis without TPP required a longer recovery time compared with those who had either idiopathic HPP or TPP. This is due to the fact that patients of secondary HP had a significantly negative total body potassium balance, whereas idiopathic HPP and TPP were only associated with intracellular shift of potassium. Most of the TPP patients included in our study had overt thyrotoxicosis while 3 patients had subclinical thyrotoxicosis. This study shows that TPP is the most common cause of hypokalemic paralysis in Korea. And we suggest that doctors should consider the presence of TPP in patients of hypokalemic paralysis even if they clinically appear to be euthyroid state.


Hypokalemic periodic paralysis; Thyrotoxic periodic paralysis; Hypokalemic paralysis

MeSH Terms

Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis
Retrospective Studies
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