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Am J Med Sci. 1997 Jul;314(1):37-40.

The effects of potassium depletion and supplementation on blood pressure: a clinical review.

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Division of Nephrology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, USA.


Nonpharmacologic treatment currently is recognized as an important part in the treatment of hypertension, and the role of dietary potassium intake in blood pressure (BP) control is becoming quite evident. Clinical studies have examined the mechanism by which hypokalemia can increase BP and the benefit of a large potassium intake on BP control. Epidemiologic data suggest that potassium intake and BP are correlated inversely. In normotensive subjects, those who are salt sensitive or who have a family history of hypertension appear to benefit most from the hypotensive effects of potassium supplementation. The greatest hypotensive effect of potassium supplementation occurs in patients with severe hypertension. This effect is pronounced with prolonged potassium supplementation. The antihypertensive effect of increased potassium intake appears to be mediated by several factors, which include enhancing natriuresis, modulating baroreflex sensitivity, direct vasodilation, or lowering cardiovascular reactivity to norepinephrine or angiotensin II. Potassium repletion in patients with diuretic-induced hypokalemia improves BP control. An increase in potassium intake should be included in the nonpharmacologic management of patients with uncomplicated hypertension.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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