Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole induced hyperkalaemia in elderly patients receiving spironolactone: nested case-control study Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVES: To characterise the risk of admission to hospital for hyperkalaemia in elderly patients treated with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole in combination with spironolactone. DESIGN: Population based nested case-control study. SETTING: Ontario, Canada, from 1 April 1992 to 1 March 2010. PARTICIPANTS: Cases were residents of Ontario aged 66 years or above receiving chronic treatment with spironolactone and admitted to hospital with hyperkalaemia within 14 days of receiving a prescription for either trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, amoxicillin, norfloxacin, or nitrofurantoin. Up to four controls for each case were identified from the same cohort, matched on age, sex, and presence or absence of chronic kidney disease and diabetes, and required to have received one of the study antibiotics within 14 days before the case's index date. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Odds ratio for association between admission to hospital with hyperkalaemia and receipt of a study antibiotic in the preceding 14 days, adjusted for conditions and drugs that may influence risk of hyperkalaemia. RESULTS: During the 18 year study period, 6903 admissions for hyperkalaemia were identified, 306 of which occurred within 14 days of antibiotic use. Of these, 248 (81%) cases were matched to 783 controls. 10.8% (17,859/165,754) of spironolactone users received at least one prescription for trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Compared with amoxicillin, prescription of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole was associated with a marked increase in the risk of admission to hospital for hyperkalaemia (adjusted odds ratio 12.4, 95% confidence interval 7.1 to 21.6). The population attributable fraction was 59.7%, suggesting that approximately 60% of all cases of hyperkalaemia in older patients taking spironolactone and treated with an antibiotic for a urinary tract infection could be avoided if trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole was not prescribed. Treatment with nitrofurantoin was also associated with an increase in the risk of hyperkalaemia (adjusted odds ratio 2.4, 1.3 to 4.6), but no such risk was found with norfloxacin (adjusted odds ratio 1.6, 0.8 to 3.4) CONCLUSIONS: Among older patients receiving spironolactone, treatment with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole was associated with a major increase in the risk of admission to hospital for hyperkalaemia. This drug combination should be avoided when possible.


  • Antoniou, T
  • Gomes, T
  • Mamdani, MM
  • Yao, Z
  • Hellings, C
  • Garg, Amit
  • Weir, MA
  • Juurlink, DN

publication date

  • September 12, 2011

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