My husband has been prescribed Potassium CL 10 mEq ER, 1 Tab 2X Day because he has also been prescribed Furosemide (aka Lasik) 40 mg, 1 Tab 2X Day for Congestive Heart Failure.
My question is if he where to take an OTC Potassium Gluconate 595mg, 2 Tabs 2X Day (4 Tabs Total Daily) is he getting the same amount of Potassium that he needs?
Please note the OTC Dosage noted above is what I believe is the comparable dosage needed after researching & reviewing numerous articles on the subject.
Added 23 Apr 2013:
The whole reason I was looking at an OTC equivalent is because it appears that it would cost much less by doing so, we have no prescription insurance coverage & are having to pay retail for all of his prescriptions while we wait to see if our states Medicaid will pay for them since due to the severity of my husbands condition he has been given 1-2 years to live & told he could no longer work & that he should go apply for SSD immediately. But until those medical services are approved we must pay for his life sustaining prescriptions ourselves & the Potassium one is one of the higher costing ones.. Both my husband & I are aware of the dangers when it comes to Potassium.
My husband is only 41 years old & was just diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure 15 days ago & when at a follow up appt yesterday with a doctor from our local Health Department as we do not have medical and or prescription insurance coverage, the doctor said he didn't have time to look at the possible differences/dosages when it came to OTC & Prescribed Potassium(s) & that maybe my husbands Cardiologist could answer this for us.
If your husband takes OTC supplements for potassium there in no way to tell what he is truly getting. The tablet could have 595 mg or it could be 395 mg or 795 mg, but more then not the bottle may contain all three. The supplement industry does not regulate just what is in the tablet and only his doctor could tell you just what would equal what he had given him. I am a congestive heart failure patient and I take 1/2 tablet of Aldactone, a potassium sparing medication to control my potassium level and because to much potassium can be just as deadly as not enough, I am not allowed to eat any foods high in potassium because it can cause potassium poisoning. Potassium is something that you don't want to play with and when it is given to you in the hospital they test your blood all through the day to make sure that you don't receive to much. Please check with your husband before you make any changes of the nature.
Yes potassium is dangerous to play with. The normal range is very small, and too much is as bad as not enough. Potassium can effect the heart beat so this isn't something to play with. He should take what the dr ordered.
This is really something to discuss with your husbands cardiologist. Sometimes OTC substitutions can be made and sometimes they cannot. As said previously potassium is nothing to fool around with because too much can be as deadly as not enough. Potassium plays a BIG part in the hearts electrical activity and this is what makes the heart beat. There are many people who have difficulty paying for their medications. Since you are waiting for assistance, your Dr may be able to work with you until then. He might be able to give samples or he might know of an assistance program to get the medications at reduced or no cost until your coverage kicks in. Please talk to the cardiologist before substituting. Potassium is not just a normal vitamin. It could be the difference between life and death. CHF can be controlled with careful medical attention and some TLC on the part of the patient.
He should weigh himself daily and if he gains more than 3lbs in one day or 5 lbs in one week, he should notify his Dr immediately. This means fluid is building. With CHF the heart is not working to pump correctly as you likely now know. Learn to read labels and limit sodium intake. Salt or sodium causes fluid retention which is deadly in a CHF patient. Look for hidden sources. Most people know that canned goods and frozen prepared foods are salty but things like some breakfast cereals, soft drinks and other beverages, salad dressings and other foods can have very high sodium content so always look at the sodium levels and pay attention to "serving sizes" because the serving size and what one actually eats can be very different. Some soft drinks are labelled as 2 servings when most people drink the whole bottle so if the serving size is 2 and he drinks the whole thing you must double the amount of sodium taken in. With a little care and attention, he may be able to live much longer if he is careful! When you do get assistance, find out if they have assigned a Case Manager to your husband. If they have not, ask if one can be assigned. A case manager is usually a nurse with vast experience and they are a wonderful resource to help you navigate the health system and can really help to educate you in ways your Dr never will. Many times medicaid patients have one assigned to help them. They can really help you find resources available to you. Good luck!
24 Apr 2013
I too have no insurance and understand that out of pocket cost can be very high, I paid over $200.00 a month for Plavix for almost two years before it went generic but somethings we can not leave to chance and this is one. Check with all your area pharmacies and see where you can get the best price and which have discounts, they are very good at helping.
8 Jun 2013
To all those who do not have insurance and are purchasing high cost meds.
I did not have insurance for 2 years between Cobra insurance and medicare. I am on a lot of medications that are very costly. I looked into and used a Canadian pharmacy where medication costs are capped/ controlled by the government. I saved quite a bit of money this way. One must have a prescription for the medications that has to be either sent by mail or faxed ( this is what I used). It worked quite well and the medications were sent via mail to my house. Do not let anyone tell you that Canadian pharmacies are not as good as ours here in the states. This is not true! Canadians would be very upset at hearing this. Make sure that the pharmacy has appropriate certifications by the Canadian government prior to using them. I also called them and talked to a representative. If you have a cell phone, calls are not expensive. It is truly worth it and the medications are just as good. Look pharmacies up on line. S Davie
17 Oct 2014
Dear Lady, I too am in the same boat as your husband. I'm still fighting for my SSD. I'm having to go to a free clinic just to get ANY kind of medical care. What the clinic doctor told me to do since we too, cannot afford the cost of the Potassium Chloride tables was to eat a banana after every meal. Because I'm also a diabetic type 2, they told me i could even keep my sugar down by eating HALF of a banana after each meal and it would STILL satisfy my Potassium requirements needed since I'm also taking one 40mg lasix/furosemide tablet 2 times daily. I hope this helps.
26 Nov 2016
10 May 2018
I'm a pharmacist student, and will answer this for future reference.
He's taking 20 mEq KCl total per day due to 1 tab twice daily. This is equivalent to 7.87 tablets of pot gluconate 595mg per day, not 4 tablets.
KCl ER tablets are extended release formulation, which means they release KCl slowly over time unlike the pot gluconate tablets which release all at once.
Normal range for potassium level in blood is 3.5 to 5.0 mEq/L. This is a pretty narrow range so dosing needs to be precise.
So you may get by with taking 4 tabs twice a day for pot gluconate. But it's only safe if you get blood potassium level checked afterwards to be sure it's in safe range with your method. The risk is significant due to many variables happening that same time with using different brand/type of drug that may lead to different blood level and therapeutic effects. When mEq is used instead of milligram, it usually means precision is needed.
If paying with cash, there are plenty of precription drug coupons for almost every drug online. Cheapest I found is $13 for 1 mon supply of KCl, which is way cheaper than buying OTC pot gluconate.
4 Aug 2018
I don't know if this response is even still needed. However, I will add my 2 cents worth anyway. Not unlike sodium, Potassium is a very dangerous electrolyte when out of balance. The heart depends on a very narrow range for appropriate electrical current and "beating", if you will. When a patient has CHF, or, congestive heart failure, the heart is already overloaded with too much fluid and has to work excessively in order to feed tissues much needed blood and oxygen.
When the electrolytes are out of balance as well, this can cause the heart to either beat too slow, or too rapidly (and inefficiently), thereby preventing proper "feeding" of the tissues and vital organs. As one might imagine, this quickly leads to palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, cramps, nausea and even death!
Not something that needs to be played with AT ALL!
That all said, look into programs with all of your and your husband's medications. You both should qualify for drug programs which either provide the medications free or at a minimal cost. The physician's office where your spouse is being treated should be willing to sign the appropriate paperwork. you can download the papers from the website, print them off and fill them out. take them to them. They will have the physician sign them and fax them for you. The meds may be either sent to your home or to the physicians office for you to pick up. Either one will be less expensive than purchasing outright and much safer. I guarantee the physician will thank you that you took this initiative to help yourself rather than try and do the "OTC" fix which may or may not really "fix" the situation.
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