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Hypokalemia: a clinical update

Efstratios Kardalas, Stavroula A Paschou, Panagiotis Anagnostis, Giovanna Muscogiuri, Gerasimos Siasos, and Andromachi Vryonidou

Hypokalemia is a common electrolyte disturbance, especially in hospitalized patients. It can have various causes, including endocrine ones. Sometimes, hypokalemia requires urgent medical attention. The aim of this review is to present updated information regarding: (1) the definition and prevalence of hypokalemia, (2) the physiology of potassium homeostasis, (3) the various causes leading to hypokalemia, (4) the diagnostic steps for the assessment of hypokalemia and (5) the appropriate treatment of hypokalemia depending on the cause. Practical algorithms for the optimal diagnostic, treatment and follow-up strategy are presented, while an individualized approach is emphasized.

Open access

Menopause-associated risk of cardiovascular disease

Panagiotis Anagnostis, Irene Lambrinoudaki, John C Stevenson, and Dimitrios G Goulis

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is of major concern in women entering menopause. The changing hormonal milieu predisposes them to increased CVD risk, due to a constellation of risk factors, such as visceral obesity, atherogenic dyslipidemia, dysregulation in glucose homeostasis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and arterial hypertension. However, an independent association of menopause per se with increased risk of CVD events has only been proven for early menopause (<45 years). Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) ameliorates most of the CVD risk factors mentioned above. Transdermal estrogens are the preferable regimen, since they do not increase triglyceride concentrations and they are not associated with increased risk of venous thromboembolic events (VTE). Although administration of MHT should be considered on an individual basis, MHT may reduce CVD morbidity and mortality, if commenced during the early postmenopausal period (<60 years or within ten years since the last menstrual period). In women with premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), MHT should be administered at least until the average age of menopause (50–52 years). MHT is contraindicated in women with a history of VTE and is not currently recommended for the sole purpose of CVD prevention. The risk of breast cancer associated with MHT is generally low and is mainly conferred by the progestogen. Micronized progesterone and dydrogesterone are associated with lower risk compared to other progestogens.

Open access

Adrenal hyperandrogenism does not deteriorate insulin resistance and lipid profile in women with PCOS

Stavroula A Paschou, Eleni Palioura, Dimitrios Ioannidis, Panagiotis Anagnostis, Argyro Panagiotakou, Vasiliki Loi, Georgios Karageorgos, Dimitrios G Goulis, and Andromachi Vryonidou


The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of adrenal hyperandrogenism on insulin resistance and lipid profile in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Patients and methods

We studied 372 women with PCOS according to the NIH criteria. 232 age- and BMI-matched women served as controls in order to define adrenal hyperandrogenism (DHEA-S >95th percentile). Then, patients with PCOS were classified into two groups: with adrenal hyperandrogenism (PCOS-AH, n = 108) and without adrenal hyperandrogenism (PCOS-NAH, n = 264). Anthropometric measurements were recorded. Fasting plasma glucose, insulin, lipid profile, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and androgen (TT, Δ4A, DHEA-S) concentrations were assessed. Free androgen index (FAI) and homeostatic model assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) index were calculated.


Women with PCOS-AH were younger than PCOS-NAH (P < 0.001), but did not differ in the degree and type of obesity. No differences were found in HOMA-IR, total cholesterol, HDL-c, LDL-c and triglyceride concentrations (in all comparisons, P > 0.05). These metabolic parameters did not differ between the two groups even after correction for age. Women with PCOS-AH had lower SHBG (29.2 ± 13.8 vs 32.4 ± 11.8 nmol/L, P = 0.025) and higher TT (1.0 ± 0.2 vs 0.8 ± 0.4 ng/mL, P = 0.05) and Δ4A (3.9 ± 1.2 vs 3.4 ± 1.0 ng/mL, P = 0.007) concentrations, as well as FAI (14.1 ± 8.0 vs 10.2 ± 5.0, P < 0.001). These results were confirmed by a multiple regression analysis model in which adrenal hyperandrogenism was negatively associated with age (P < 0.001) and SHBG concentrations (P = 0.02), but not with any metabolic parameter.


Women with PCOS and adrenal hyperandrogenism do not exhibit any deterioration in insulin resistance and lipid profile despite the higher degree of total androgens.