refeeding syndrome

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A potentially fatal condition that may affect severely malnourished patients in response to the reintroduction of a protein- and calorie-rich diet. It is thought to be due to severe fluid and electrolyte shifts (especially low phosphate, magnesium, and potassium levels in the blood) and related metabolic complications (e.g. raised levels of insulin in the blood). Its manifestations include shortness of breath, paraesthesia, muscle weakness, palpitations (due to cardiac arrhythmia), fitting, and death in serious cases. An assessment to identify patients at risk before the introduction of feed, and regular monitoring and prompt correction of serum electrolyte concentration, helps to prevent the condition.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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