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Deep Dive: Investigating the complicated relationship between potassium supplementation and blood pressure

Potassium supplementation can lower blood pressure in moderate doses, but this novel meta-analysis suggests that too much could have the opposite effect.

Study under review: Potassium Intake and Blood Pressure: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Introduction

High blood pressure is one of the leading modifiable risk factors[1] for cardiovascular disease. Dietary modifications have been shown to lower blood pressure for people with hypertension. For example, in randomized trials[2], sodium restriction has been shown to lower systolic blood pressure by about 6–12[3] mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by about 3[2] mmHg. Increases in potassium intake[4] have also been shown to lower blood pressure. Furthermore, there have been meta-analyses[5] that have found that not only does potassium appear to lower blood pressure, but also result in some hard clinical outcomes, such as reducing the risk of stroke[5].

Although the existing literature suggests that increasing potassium intake lowers blood pressure, it is not clear whether this effect is proportional to the actual amount of additional potassium ingested. As such, the researchers conducting the present meta-analysis examined the dose-response relationship between potassium intake and blood pressure in randomized controlled trials.

Hypertension, defined by elevated blood pressure, is one of the leading modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Potassium has been shown to lower blood pressure, but the dose-response relationship has not been well defined, especially with large intakes of potassium. The present study was a dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that examined the effect of potassium supplementation, with or without dietary modification on blood pressure.

What was studied?

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