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Potassium benefits for hypertension and stroke

Increased potassium intake reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension and has no adverse effect on blood lipid concentrations, catecholamine concentrations, or renal function in adults, according to a study1 published recently in the British Medical Journal.

Higher potassium intake was also associated with a 24% lower risk of stroke. These results suggest that increased potassium intake is potentially beneficial to most people without impaired renal handling of potassium for the prevention and control of elevated blood pressure and stroke, say the authors.

Researchers analysed 22 randomised controlled trials (including 1,606 participants) and 11 cohort studies (127,038 participants) reporting the effects of potassium intake on blood pressure, renal function, blood lipids, catecholamine concentrations, all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and coronary heart disease. When possible, meta-analysis was done to estimate the effects (mean difference or risk ratio with 95% confidence interval) of higher potassium intake by using the inverse variance method and a random effect model.

Increased potassium intake reduced systolic blood pressure by 3.49 (95% confidence interval 1.82 to 5.15) mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.96 (0.86 to 3.06) mm Hg in adults, an effect seen in people with hypertension but not in those without hypertension. Systolic blood pressure was reduced by 7.16 (1.91 to 12.41) mm Hg when the higher potassium intake was 90–120 mmol/day, without any dose response.

Increased potassium intake had no significant adverse effect on renal function, blood lipids, or catecholamine concentrations in adults. An inverse statistically significant association was seen between potassium intake and risk of incident stroke (risk ratio 0.76, 0.66 to 0.89). Associations between potassium intake and incident cardiovascular disease (risk ratio 0.88, 0.70 to 1.11) or coronary heart disease (0.96, 0.78 to 1.19) were not statistically significant. In children, three controlled trials and one cohort study suggested that increased potassium intake reduced systolic blood pressure by a non-significant 0.28 (−0.49 to 1.05) mm Hg.

References

1. Aburto NJ, Hanson S, Gutierrez H, Hooper L, Elliott P, Cappuccio FP. BMJ 2013;346:f1378. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f1378

Published on: April 26, 2013

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