Potassium Helps Lower Blood Pressure

May 28, 1997

Hopkins scientists have crunched data from 33 previous studies to authoritatively answer an enduring public health question: can potassium lower blood pressure? The answer is yes.

The Hopkins team found potassium supplements decreased blood pressure by 3.1 mm Hg systolic and 2.0 mm Hg diastolic. In persons with hypertension, the blood pressure reductions were even greater, 4.4 mm Hg (systolic) and 2.5 mm Hg (diastolic).

"That's about half the reduction in blood pressure you can typically expect from treatment with drug therapy," says Lawrence Appel, M.D., an author of the study in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association. A systolic blood pressure of less than 120 and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg is desirable. Systolic blood pressure occurs when the heart is contracting; diastolic when it relaxes between contractions.

Scientists also found evidence that potassium supplements were more helpful for those with severe high blood pressure and high salt intakes, and slightly more helpful for African-Americans. "Still, potassium supplements even helped persons with normal blood pressure," says Appel. "Even if your blood pressure is already normal, potassium can potentially help keep it that way."

Appel notes that taken individually, the prior studies of potassium and blood pressure left people with mixed signals. "By combining the results of over 30 studies that together enrolled more than 2500 persons, we conclusively demonstrated that potassium can reduce blood pressure," he says. "While this research evaluates potassium in the form of pills or supplements, it is likely that similar benefits would occur from potassium-rich foods."

The study, supported in part by the National Institutes of Health, was led by Paul Whelton, M.D., a former Hopkins faculty member now at Tulane University, and Jiang He, M.D., Ph.D., a visiting scientist at the Hopkins School of Public Health and Hygiene.

About 40 million Americans have high blood pressure, which is particularly common in African Americans and among people over 50. Hypertension is important because it is a powerful risk factor for cardiovascular disease, stroke and kidney disease.

The new findings could have a "widespread impact," according to Appel, particularly if adopted with other steps already recognized as affecting blood pressure, including lowering salt and alcohol intake and exercising regularly.

Other authors on the study were Jeffrey Cutler, M.D. and Dean Follman, Ph.D., both of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; and Frederick Brancati, M.D. and Michael Klag, M.D., of Hopkins.


Media contact: Michael Purdy (410) 955-8725
E-mail: mpurdy@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions' news releases are available on a PRE-EMBARGOED basis on EurekAlert at http://www.eurekalert.org and from the Office of Communications and Public Affairs' direct e-mail news release service. To enroll, call 410-955-4255 or send e-mail to bpalevic@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu or 76520.560@compuserve.com.

On a POST-EMBARGOED basis find them at http://hopkins.med.jhu.edu, http://infonet.welch.jhu.edu/news/news_releases, Newswise at http://www.ari.net/newswise or on CompuServe in the SciNews-MedNews library of the Journalism Forum under file extension ".JHM", Quadnet at http://www.quad-net.com or ScienceDaily at http://www.sciencedaily.com.

Johns Hopkins Medicine

Related Blood Pressure Articles from Brightsurf:

Children who take steroids at increased risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, blood clots
Children who take oral steroids to treat asthma or autoimmune diseases have an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and blood clots, according to Rutgers researchers.

High blood pressure treatment linked to less risk for drop in blood pressure upon standing
Treatment to lower blood pressure did not increase and may decrease the risk of extreme drops in blood pressure upon standing from a sitting position.

Changes in blood pressure control over 2 decades among US adults with high blood pressure
National survey data were used to examine how blood pressure control changed overall among U.S. adults with high blood pressure between 1999-2000 and 2017-2018 and by age, race, insurance type and access to health care.

Transient increase in blood pressure promotes some blood vessel growth
Blood vessels are the body's transportation system, carrying oxygen and nutrients to cells and whisking away waste.

Effect of reducing blood pressure medications on blood pressure control in older adults
Whether the amount of blood pressure medications taken by older adults could be reduced safely and without a significant change in short-term blood pressure control was the objective of this randomized clinical trial that included 534 adults 80 and older.

Brain blood flow sensor discovery could aid treatments for high blood pressure & dementia
A study led by researchers at UCL has discovered the mechanism that allows the brain to monitor its own blood supply, a finding in rats which may help to find new treatments for human conditions including hypertension (high blood pressure) and dementia.

Here's something that will raise your blood pressure
The apelin receptor (APJ) has been presumed to play an important role in the contraction of blood vessels involved in blood pressure regulation.

New strategy for treating high blood pressure
The key to treating blood pressure might lie in people who are 'resistant' to developing high blood pressure even when they eat high salt diets, shows new research published today in Experimental Physiology.

Arm cuff blood pressure measurements may fall short for predicting heart disease risk in some people with resistant high blood pressure
A measurement of central blood pressure in people with difficult-to-treat high blood pressure could help reduce risk of heart disease better than traditional arm cuff readings for some patients, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions.

Heating pads may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure when lying down
In people with supine hypertension due to autonomic failure, a condition that increases blood pressure when lying down, overnight heat therapy significantly decreased systolic blood pressure compared to a placebo.

Read More: Blood Pressure News and Blood Pressure Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.