Cardiology

Heart cells cozy up to prevent deadly arrhythmias

Blood may seem like a simple fluid, but its chemistry is complex. When too much potassium, for instance, accumulates in the bloodstream, patients may experience deadly irregular heart rhythms.

Neuroscience

Acute breakdown of the glial network in epilepsy

Tohoku University scientists and their colleagues in Germany have revealed that a first-time exposure to only a brief period of brain hyperactivity resulted in an acute breakdown of the inter-cellular network of glial cells. ...

Medical research

Worms reveal why melatonin promotes sleep

Melatonin is used as a dietary supplement to promote sleep and get over jet lag, but nobody really understands how it works in the brain. Now, researchers at UConn Health show that melatonin helps worms sleep, too, and they ...

Radiology & Imaging

Tracer molecule may improve imaging tests for brain injury

Researchers have validated a new radiolabeled molecule that can be used with imaging tests to accurately detect and characterize brain injury. The team, led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), recently ...

Neuroscience

New drug reduces stroke damage in mice

Neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute have identified a novel drug that could protect the brain during and after a stroke.

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Potassium

Potassium (pronounced /pɵˈtæsiəm/) is the chemical element with the symbol K (Latin: kalium, from Arabic: القَلْيَه‎ al-qalyah “plant ashes”, cf. Alkali from the same root), atomic number 19, and atomic mass 39.0983. Potassium was first isolated from potash. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white metallic alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the evolved hydrogen.

Potassium in nature occurs only as ionic salt. As such, it is found dissolved in seawater, and as part of many minerals. Potassium ion is necessary for the function of all living cells, and is thus present in all plant and animal tissues. It is found in especially high concentrations in plant cells, and in a mixed diet, it is most highly concentrated in fruits.

In many respects, potassium and sodium are chemically similar, although they have very different functions in organisms in general, and in animal cells in particular.

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