The Importance of Potassium in Managing Hypertension
Mark C. Houston
© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011
Dietary potassium intake has been demonstrated to significantly lower blood pressure (BP) in a dose responsive manner in both hypertensive and nonhypertensive patients in observational studies, clinical trials, and several meta-analyses. In hypertensive patients, the linear dose–response relationship is a 1.0 mm Hg reduction in systolic BP and a 0.52 mm Hg reduction in diastolic BP per 0.6 g per day increase in dietary potassium intake that is independent of baseline potassium deficiency. The average reduction in BP with 4.7 g (120 mmol) of dietary potassium per day is 8.0/4.1 mm Hg, depending race and on the relative intakes of other minerals such as sodium, magnesium, and calcium. If the dietary sodium chloride intake is high, there is a greater BP reduction with an increased intake of dietary potassium. Blacks have a greater decrease in BP than Caucasians with an equal potassium intake. Potassium-induced reduction in BP significantly lowers the incidence of stroke (cerebrovascular accident, CVA), coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, and other cardiovascular events. However, potassium also reduces the risk of CVA independent of BP reductions. Increasing consumption of potassium to 4.7 g per day predicts lower event rates for future cardiovascular disease, with estimated decreases of 8% to 15% in CVA and 6% to 11% in myocardial infarction.