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Can Low Potassium Cause High Blood Pressure

How Much Potassium Do You Need To Lower Blood Pressure

Can low potassium cause high blood pressure

For the average adult, a healthy potassium intake is between 3,500 and 4,700 milligrams per day. Unfortunately, the typical diet in the U.S. offers too much sodium and not enough potassium. The first step to decreasing your risk factors for hypertension is decreasing salty food intake and adding potassium-rich foods to your diet. It is a good idea to have your labs checked with your physician to see if you are deficient in potassium or have elevated levels, which can happen with chronic kidney disease.

Should You Take Potassium Supplements

Over-the-counter potassium supplements are not recommended.

In the US, food authorities limit potassium in over-the-counter supplements to just 99 mg. In comparison, a medium banana contains 422 mg of potassium .

This limit is likely low because studies have shown that high-dose potassium supplements may damage the gut or lead to an abnormal heartbeat, which is fatal (27,

That said, its fine to take a higher-dose potassium supplement if your doctor prescribes it.

Summary Its not recommended to take over-the-counter potassium supplements, as they are limited to only 99 mg of potassium. Also, studies have linked them to adverse conditions.

Effects On Your Kidneys

High potassium doesnt cause kidney conditions, but its generally directly related to your kidneys. You may be more susceptible to high potassium if you have kidney failure or another kidney condition. Thats because your kidneys are meant to balance the potassium levels in your body.

Your body absorbs potassium through foods, drinks, and sometimes supplements. Your kidneys excrete leftover potassium through your urine. But if your kidneys arent working as they should, your body may not be able to remove extra potassium.

High potassium may also cause other symptoms and effects. This includes:

  • abdominal conditions, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramping
  • numbness or tingling in your arms, hands, legs, or feet
  • changes in mood, such as irritability
  • muscle weakness

These symptoms may slowly develop in your body and be so mild that you dont even notice them. Subtle symptoms could make it difficult to diagnose high potassium. Its important to see your doctor for routine bloodwork on a regular basis.

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Muscle Weakness And Cramps

As mentioned in the introduction, potassium is necessary for the proper functioning of the bodys muscles. So, if youre low on the nutrient, it stands to reason that you will likely experience some problems. Muscle weakness may be among the first signs, which the San Francisco Chronicle says can cause a person difficulty when walking or holding objects.

In addition, the muscles may twitch or cramp. These spasms, particularly when they occur in the leg, are often referred to as charley horses. If potassium levels continue to drop, the source warns that muscle paralysis can occur, and if the paralysis involves the diaphragm, the muscle responsible for breathing, respiratory failure will occur.

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  • Should I Take Potassium Supplements

    Potassium Modulates Electrolyte Balance and Blood Pressure ...

    Unless there is a medical reason, doctors do not advise you to take potassium supplements. Taking too much potassium can upset your stomach and weaken your muscles. In rare cases, it can even cause serious problems.

    However, if you’re taking some types of diuretics , your doctor may want you to take a potassium supplement. Some diuretics flush potassium, water, and other minerals out of your body. There are other diuretics, however, that do not cause your kidneys to get rid of extra potassium.

    You need to be especially careful about taking potassium supplements or getting too much potassium in your diet if either of these statements is true.

    • You take medicines that limit your kidney’s ability to flush out potassium. This would include medicines such as ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers , or certain diuretics.
    • You have health problems such as diabetes or severe kidney disease. These conditions may limit your kidney’s ability to flush out excess potassium.

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    How Long Does It Take For Potassium To Lower Blood Pressure

    Its important to recognize the effect of potassium is not immediate. Its not like you can eat a banana and thenboomfive minutes later, youre less hypertensive, with lower cardiovascular risk.

    And, dietary approaches dont work in all circumstances. If we have someone thats in the emergency room with high blood pressure, were not going to push potassium, explains Dr. Dixon. Its going to be a couple different blood pressure lowering drugs that would be much more effective in that case.

    It will take weeks to months to lower blood pressure using potassium. Thats why eating a balanced diet and changing your lifestyle to prioritize heart health over the long haul is important. If you eat properly, youll likely get enough potassium just through your food. The best option is to combine that diet with other actionable steps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels: getting regular exercise, avoiding cigarettes, maintaining a healthy weight, and decreasing sodium intake.

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    If were all fortunate enough to live into our late 70s or into the eighth and ninth decade of life, at some point your blood pressure may creep up a little bit and meet that threshold of hypertension, Dr. Dixon says. But theres a lot we can do in our younger years to delay that as much as possible and hopefully prevent it.

    How Can I Prevent Hyperkalemia

    If youve had hyperkalemia or are at risk for it, a low-potassium diet is the best way to protect your health. You may need to cut back on, or completely cut out, certain high-potassium foods, such as:

    • Asparagus.
    • Citrus fruits and juices, such as oranges and grapefruit.
    • Cooked spinach.
    • Melons like honeydew and cantaloupe.
    • Nectarines.
    • Prunes, raisins and other dried fruits.
    • Pumpkin and winter squash.
    • Salt substitutes that contain potassium.
    • Tomatoes and tomato-based products like sauces and ketchup.

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    Hypokalemia Diagnosis And Treatment

    If your doctor suspects you have low potassium levels, he or she will first obtain tests of your blood to measure the amount of potassium circulating in your body. Normal blood potassium levels range from 3.6 to 5.2 millimoles per liter of blood. Your doctor also may obtain an ECG for hypokalemia to look for heart .

    A serum potassium level below 2.5 mmol/L is a medical emergency because it can lead to and death. The patient will be treated in the hospital with immediate infusions of potassium through an intravenous line, along with potential other treatments to stabilize the heart rhythm.

    For low potassium levels that are not considered critical, your doctor may recommend other treatments, including:

    • Changing your prescription medicine for high blood pressure, heart failure, or to a drug that helps your body retain more potassium

    • Increasing your consumption of potassium-rich foods, such as bananas, sweet potatoes, poultry, and tomatoes

    • Potassium supplements, which normally should be taken only on the advice of a physician

    • Using table salt substitute products that contain mostly potassium instead of sodium

    Reduce Your Potassium Intake

    Potassium Lowers Blood Pressure | How It Works

    One of the easiest ways to lower your potassium levels naturally is to reduce the amount of potassium in your diet. This means limiting foods and supplements that are high in potassium.Some foods that are high in potassium include:

    • bananas
    • cod
    • beef

    Talk to your doctor for suggestions about the best diet plan for you. You can also ask them for a referral to a dietitian or nutritionist.

    Read more: High- and low-potassium foods »

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    Low Potassium In People Who Have Diabetes

    If you already have diabetes, low potassium could be due to a complication called diabetic ketoacidosis. When your body can’t make enough insulin to use sugar for fuel, it breaks down fat to use as energy instead.

    The breakdown of fat releases chemicals called ketones into your blood. They can build up to dangerous levels in your body and cause symptoms like thirst, nausea, weakness, and shortness of breath. The fluids and insulin your doctor gives you to treat diabetic ketoacidosis can make your potassium levels drop. The ketones themselves along with high blood sugar can lead to potassium loss through the kidney.

    Low Potassium Linked To High Blood Pressure

    American Society of Nephrology
    As a risk factor for high blood pressure, low levels of potassium in the diet may be as important as high levels of sodium — especially among African-Americans, according to new research.

    As a risk factor for high blood pressure, low levels of potassium in the diet may be as important as high levels of sodiumespecially among African Americans, according to research being presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s 41st Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    “There has been a lot of publicity about lowering salt or sodium in the diet in order to lower blood pressure, but not enough on increasing dietary potassium,” comments lead author Susan Hedayati, MD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, and the Dallas VA Medical Center.

    The new study suggests that low potassium may be a particularly important contributor to high blood pressure among African Americans, and also identifies a gene that may influence potassium’s effects on blood pressure.

    The relationship between low potassium and high blood pressure remained significant even when age, race, and other cardiovascular risk factorsincluding high cholesterol, diabetes, and smokingwere taken into account.

    Research performed in the laboratory of Dr. Chou-Long Huang, a co-author of this study, has found evidence that a specific gene, called WNK1, may be responsible for potassium’s effects on blood pressure.

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    Potassium Sodium And High Blood Pressure

    • Increasing your potassium intake can decrease your blood pressure if you have high blood pressure.4
    • Consuming too much sodium can raise your blood pressure.1 This means that, on average, the more sodium you consume, the higher your blood pressure will be, especially if you already have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
    • Consuming too little potassium in your diet and too much sodium can raise your blood pressure.5,6

    Can Low Potassium Cause Heart Problems

    Causes of Low Potassium &  High Blood Pressure

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    . Similarly, it is asked, can low potassium cause a heart attack?

    Potassium levels can be low without being so low that the heart stops contracting. Sometimes the low levels cause the heart to pump blood ineffectively in a condition known as heart failure. Blood clots that form or flow and get stuck in the coronary arteries could block the blood supply and cause a heart attack.

    Also Know, what can happen if your potassium level is too low? In hypokalemia, the level of potassium in blood is too low. A low potassium level has many causes but usually results from vomiting, diarrhea, adrenal gland disorders, or use of diuretics. A low potassium level can make muscles feel weak, cramp, twitch, or even become paralyzed, and abnormal heart rhythms may develop.

    In this regard, how does potassium affect the heart?

    Potassium plays a role in every heartbeat. A hundred thousand times a day, it helps trigger your heart to squeeze blood through your body. It also helps your muscles to move, your nerves to work, and your kidneys to filter blood.

    How long does it take to recover from low potassium?

    In most cases of mild hypokalemia the potassium will return to normal a few days after you start taking potassium. If your potassium was low enough to cause symptoms, it may take a few days of treatment for the weakness and other symptoms to go away.

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    What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor

    If you have hyperkalemia , you may want to ask your healthcare provider:

    • Why did I get hyperkalemia?
    • How often should I get blood tests to check for hyperkalemia?
    • How much potassium should I get in my daily diet?
    • What foods or supplements should I avoid?
    • What, if any, salt substitutes can I use?
    • What are the treatment risks and side effects?
    • Am I at risk for kidney failure or other problems due to hyperkalemia?
    • What follow-up care do I need after treatment?
    • Should I look out for signs of complications?

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    Because hyperkalemia rarely causes symptoms, you may be surprised when a blood test shows that your potassium levels are high. A low-potassium diet can protect your health. Your healthcare provider can determine how much potassium you need or connect you with a dietitian, if needed. A dietitian can help you create meal plans that ensure you get just the right amount of potassium in your diet. Your provider may also change your medications. Potassium levels that reach a dangerously high level can be life-threatening. If youre at risk for hyperkalemia, your provider will closely monitor your potassium levels.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/05/2020.


    How Does Potassium Lower Blood Pressure

    Potassium and blood pressure have an inverse relationship to one another. Patients with elevated potassium have lower blood pressure, and patients who have low potassium have an elevated blood pressure, says Craig Beavers, Pharm.D., a member of the American College of Cardiology s Cardiovascular Team Section and Leadership Council and director of cardiovascular services at Baptist Health Paducah. Why? It has to do with the relationship between electrolytes and fluid in your body.

    Potassium, sodium, and magnesium are all examples of electrolytes that help maintain the proper fluid and blood volume balance in your body. The role of sodium in high blood pressure is well-known. Too much salt can result in elevated blood pressure in susceptible individuals. Low potassium intake can have the same effect.

    Thats because potassium helps kick sodium out of your system. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through your urine, according to the American Heart Association. If youve got a lot of sodium in your system, it can lead to fluid retention and that makes your heart work harder because theres more fluid to push around. That harder work raises your blood pressure and increases your risk for cardiovascular disease.

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    How Much Potassium Do I Need Every Day

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    After the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans highlighted the underconsumption of potassium as a public health concern, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now requires food manufacturers to include potassium on their Nutrition Facts labels to make consumers more aware of its importance. The recommended Daily Value was also increased from 3,500 mg to 4,700 mg.

    So how can you make sure you’re getting enough potassium? The good news is, it’s easy. Start displacing some of the processed, high-sodium foods in your diet with fruits and veggies potassium is readily available in most of them, and they’re naturally low in sodium. Not to mention, fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber and other vitamins and minerals. You don’t have to go completely plant-based, but adding another one to two servings of fruit or vegetables to your meals can make a difference over the course of a day.

    Though bananas have a stellar reputation when it comes to potassium, plenty of other options are even richer in this mineral. As examples, one medium baked potato with skin contains 930 mg . One cup of cooked spinach contains 840 mg, and 1 cup of chopped carrots contains 410 mg.

    Potassium can also be found in almost all the other food groups, such as dairy , grains , nuts, beans, meat, poultry and fish. Boiling, processing or canning foods can lower potassium levels, so fresh or frozen is usually a better option.

    Potassium Citrate For Dogs

    Potassium VS. Blood Pressure

    Dog owners may use potassium citrate to help their pup with urinary stones and painful or frequent urination.

    One study fed 12 healthy dogs either a standard diet or one with 150mg potassium citrate per kilogram of body weight, twice per day.

    The authors found that supplementation had a limited effect, with a slight increase in urine pH of 0.2 units. Either way, if you choose to supplement, they recommend you do so with food, twice per day .

    Overall, the research is sparse on this topic despite various pet-friendly potassium citrate products available on the market. Talk with your veterinarian if youre considering using potassium citrate for your pet.

    Summary: Potassium citrate can be used to help dogs with urinary issues, though there is limited research to prove this. Talk with your vet for safety and dosing recommendations.

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    Potassium Lowers Blood Pressure

    When it comes to fighting high blood pressure, the average American diet delivers too much sodium and too little potassium. Eating to reverse this imbalance could prevent or control high blood pressure and translate into fewer heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease.

    Normal body levels of potassium are important for muscle function. Potassium relaxes the walls of the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and protecting against muscle cramping. A number of studies have shown an association between low potassium intake and increased blood pressure and higher risk of stroke. On the flip side, people who already have high blood pressure can significantly lower their systolic blood pressure by increasing their potassium intake when they choose to eat healthy foods.

    Most Americans get barely half of the recommended amount of potassium 4,700 milligrams a day. Fruits, vegetables, beans, and some seeds offer good ways to get more of it. Bananas are often held up as the poster child for potassium, but there are better sources.

    Since people with high blood pressure may also be trying to lose weight, consider potassium rich foods that are low in calories and carbohydrates. Good examples include broccoli, water chestnuts, spinach, and other leafy greens. Also goodalthough slightly higher in carbs and caloriesare butternut squash and sweet potatoes, and fruits such as cantaloupe, kiwi, and nectarines.


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