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J Hum Hypertens. 2014 May;28(5):333-9. doi: 10.1038/jhh.2013.89. Epub 2013 Sep 19.

A randomised controlled trial evaluating the effect of potassium supplementation on vascular function and the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.

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Regional Centre for Endocrinology and Diabetes, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK.
Centre for Public Health, Queen's University, Belfast, UK.


There is limited evidence on the effect of potassium supplementation on the vasculature in patients at increased cardiovascular risk. Potassium increases aldosterone and there is a strong association of hyperaldosteronism with poor cardiac outcomes. We aimed to determine whether potassium supplementation has a significant medium-term effect on aldosterone levels and, if so, what the overall effect of this is on vascular function in patients at moderate cardiovascular disease risk. Forty patients at moderate cardiovascular disease risk were included in a randomised placebo-controlled crossover study. Patients were assigned to 64 mmol potassium chloride or placebo for 6 weeks. Vascular function was assessed using pulse-wave analysis including the detection of a change in augmentation index to salbutamol and nitroglycerine-induced vasodilation. There was no change in augmentation index with potassium vs placebo (25.2±1.4 vs. 26.0±1.3%, respectively). Potassium improved brachial systolic blood pressure (131.8±2.2 vs. 137.1±2.4 mm Hg; P=0.013), central systolic blood pressure (123.2±2.3 vs. 128.4±2.3 mm Hg; P=0.011) and central diastolic blood pressure (80.3±1.3 vs. 83.7±1.4 mm Hg; P=0.019). Plasma renin activity and serum aldosterone both increased with potassium (P=0.001 and P=0.048 respectively). We found that potassium supplementation had no effect on endothelial function or pulse-wave analysis. It lowered brachial systolic and central blood pressure. It was associated with increased plasma renin activity and serum aldosterone.

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