Post an explanation of the disease highlighted in the scenario you were provided. Include the following in your explanation:
The role genetics plays in the disease.
Why the patient is presenting with the specific symptoms described.
The physiologic response to the stimulus presented in the scenario and why you think this response occurred.
The cells that are involved in this process.
How another characteristic (e.g., gender, genetics) would change your response.
27-year-old patient with a history of substance abuse is found unresponsive by emergency medical services (EMS) after being called by the patient’s roommate. The roommate states that he does not know how long the patient had been lying there. The patient received naloxone in the field and has become responsive. He complains of burning pain over his left hip and forearm. Evaluation in the ED revealed a large amount of necrotic tissue over the greater trochanter as well as the forearm. EKG demonstrated prolonged PR interval and peaked T waves. Serum potassium level 6.9 mEq/L.
The disease highlighted in this scenario is hyperkalemia, which is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the potassium level in the blood exceeds the normal range of 3.5-5.0 mEq/L. Genetics can play a role in hyperkalemia, as some inherited conditions can affect potassium regulation in the body.

The patient is presenting with the specific symptoms of burning pain over the left hip and forearm, prolonged PR interval, peaked T waves on EKG, and a high serum potassium level of 6.9 mEq/L, which are all indicative of hyperkalemia. Other symptoms of hyperkalemia can include muscle weakness, fatigue, palpitations, and even cardiac arrest.

The physiologic response to the stimulus presented in the scenario is an increase in serum potassium levels due to the patient’s history of substance abuse. Substances such as cocaine and amphetamines can cause hyperkalemia by stimulating the release of potassium from cells or interfering with the normal excretion of potassium by the kidneys.

The cells involved in this process are mainly the skeletal muscles, which are affected by hyperkalemia and can cause muscle weakness, pain, and necrosis. In addition, the heart muscle can also be affected, leading to abnormal electrical activity and potentially life-threatening arrhythmias.

Another characteristic that could change the response is the patient’s gender. Men are more likely than women to develop hyperkalemia due to factors such as higher muscle mass and higher rates of substance abuse. Additionally, certain genetic conditions that affect potassium regulation can also be more common in specific ethnic or racial groups.