Mr. Miller is hospitalized for cardiac problems. Somehow, medical orders are mixed up and Mr. Miller is infused with a K+ – enhanced intravenous solution meant for another patient who is taking potassium-wasting diuretics (i.e, drugs that cause excessive loss of potassium from the body in urine). Mr. Miller’s potassium levels are normal before the IV is administered. What do you think will happen to Mr. Miller’s resting membrane potentials? To his neurons’ ability to generate APs?
The resting potential would decrease, that is, become less negative, because the concentration gradient causing net diffusion of K+ out of the cell would be smaller. Action potentials would be fired more easily, that is, in response to smaller stimuli, because the resting potential would be closer to threshold. Repolarization would occur more slowly because repolarization depends on net K+ diffusion from the cell and the concentration gradient driving this diffusion is lower. Also, the subsequent hyperpolarization would be smaller.
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