Low Potassium Levels Linked With High Blood Pressure

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Researchers have found that low potassium levels correlate with high blood pressure, regardless of salt intake or cardiovascular risk factors, and the association is stronger among blacks, according to a study presented this week at the American Society of Nephrology's annual meeting in Philadelphia, Reuters Health reports. The study, by Susan Hedayati of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, is based on a multi-ethnic population of 3,303 adults, half of whom were black.

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The overall prevalence of high blood pressure was 36%. Individuals with high blood pressure had low levels of potassium, were older, weighed more and were more likely to be black than individuals who did not have the condition, the study found. Those with high blood pressure also had lower glomerular filtration rates, which correlates with poor kidney function.

Hedayati said in a statement, "The lower the potassium in the urine, hence the lower the potassium in the diet, the higher the blood pressure. This effect was even stronger than the effect of sodium on blood pressure." She added, "There has been a lot of publicity about lowering salt or sodium in the diet to lower blood pressure, but not enough on increasing dietary potassium" (Rauscher, Reuters Health, 11/10).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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