Potassium is a mineral that harbors electrical properties when it is dissolved in the fluid part of the blood and, as such, it is classified as an electrolyte. It is a nutrient that is critical to life as it is required for the proper functioning of cells, including the cells of the heart muscle. It works closely with its cousin sodium - another electrolyte – in maintaining the body's proper balance of fluids and acid-base. More specifically, potassium controls the amount of fluid inside cells while its cousin sodium maintains the balance of fluid outside cells. Potassium aids in proper muscle contraction and helps to keep the heart thumping regularly. It is also essential for conducting nerve impulses, aids in energy metabolism , and it even helps to maintain normal blood pressure. In fact, evidence suggests that diets high in potassium may help to protect against hypertension, strokes, and cardiovascular disease.
Brief or mild hypoglycemia produces no lasting effects on the brain, though it can temporarily alter brain responses to additional hypoglycemia. Prolonged, severe hypoglycemia can produce lasting damage of a wide range. This can include impairment of cognitive function, motor control, or even consciousness. The likelihood of permanent brain damage from any given instance of severe hypoglycemia is difficult to estimate, and depends on a multitude of factors such as age, recent blood and brain glucose experience, concurrent problems such as hypoxia , and availability of alternative fuels. It has been frequently found that those Type 1 diabetics found "dead in bed" in the morning after suspected severe hypoglycemia had some underlying coronary pathology that led to an induced fatal heart attack. Recently, several of these individuals found "dead in bed" were wearing Continuous Glucose Monitors, which provided a history of glucose levels prior to the fatal event. It has been found in several cases, that the fatal event was preceded by at least two hours of blood glucose levels under 40 mg/dl, possibly lower as the continuous glucose monitors are not accurate at levels below 40 mg/dl. The individuals failed to respond to the audible alarms produced by the continuous glucose monitor which may have been "alarming" for many hours prior to the fatal event. The vast majority of symptomatic hypoglycemic episodes result in no detectable permanent harm.