Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and the risk of a hospital encounter with hyperkalemia: a matched population-based cohort study Journal Articles uri icon

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  • ABSTRACT Background Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) can cause hyperkalemia by reducing renal potassium excretion. We assessed the risk of hyperkalemia after initiating TMP-SMX versus amoxicillin and determined if this risk is modified by a patient's baseline kidney function [estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR)]. Methods We conducted a population-based cohort study in Ontario, Canada involving adults ≥66 years of age newly treated with TMP-SMX (n = 58 999) matched 1:1 with those newly treated with amoxicillin (2008–2020). The primary outcome was a hospital encounter with hyperkalemia defined by a laboratory serum potassium value ≥5.5 mmol/L within 14 days of antibiotic treatment. Secondary outcomes included a hospital encounter with acute kidney injury (AKI) and all-cause hospitalization. Risk ratios (RRs) were obtained using a modified Poisson regression. Results A hospital encounter with hyperkalemia occurred in 269/58 999 (0.46%) patients treated with TMP-SMX versus 80/58 999 (0.14%) in those treated with amoxicillin {RR 3.36 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.62–4.31]}. The absolute risk of hyperkalemia in patients treated with TMP-SMX versus amoxicillin increased progressively with decreasing eGFR (risk difference of 0.12% for an eGFR ≥60 ml/min/1.73 m2, 0.42% for eGFR 45–59, 0.85% for eGFR 30–44 and 1.45% for eGFR <30; additive interaction P < .001). TMP-SMX versus amoxicillin was associated with a higher risk of a hospital encounter with AKI [RR 3.15 (95% CI 2.82–3.51)] and all-cause hospitalization [RR 1.43 (95% CI 1.34–1.53)]. Conclusions The 14-day risk of a hospital encounter with hyperkalemia was higher in patients newly treated with TMP-SMX versus amoxicillin and the risk was highest in patients with a low eGFR.


  • Hwang, Y Joseph
  • Muanda, Flory T
  • McArthur, Eric
  • Weir, Matthew A
  • Sontrop, Jessica M
  • Lam, Ngan N
  • Garg, Amit

publication date

  • May 31, 2023