Approximately 500,000 dialysis patients in America are at a high risk of hyperkalemia, a condition where blood potassium becomes elevated above normal levels. Hyperkalemia is extremely dangerous, as it can result in severe cardiac complications if untreated. Hyperkalemia may be silent or present vague symptoms until those complications develop, at which point patients require emergency medical care. However, if patients have the ability to measure their potassium levels at home, they could detect hyperkalemia before it reaches a dangerous stage, and seek preventative medical care to avoid severe complications.
Therefore, we have designed a novel device allowing patients to measure their blood potassium levels at home. The workflow of our solution is as follows: (1) patients obtain a blood sample from a finger prick, (2) potassium concentration is measured with an ion specific electrode (ISE), and (3) the device displays their potassium levels and a recommended course of action based on their hyperkalemic risk.
We validate our solution with three major tests. First, our portable ISE technology must accurately measure potassium concentration in blood samples. Second, appropriate lancet parameters (gauge and depth) to minimize hemolysis in capillary blood samples must be found to minimize falsely elevated readings. Third, device portability and ease of use must be evaluated using patient input, as these factors will affect patient compliance. We have validated the use of portable ISE technology to feasibly measure potassium, and we continue to collect data for our second and third tests.