Should we eat more potassium to better control blood pressure in hypertension?
Sommaire de l'article
Changes in lifestyle and nutrition are recommended as the first-step approach to the management of hypertension by all national and international guidelines. Today, when considering nutritional factors in hypertension, almost all the attention is focused on the reduction of salt intake to improve blood pressure (BP) control. Changes in potassium intake are only briefly evoked in guidelines. Few physicians actually think about proposing to eat more foods that are high in potassium (fruits, vegetables, nuts) to better control BP. Yet, during the last 40 years, increasing evidence has accumulated demonstrating that increasing potassium intake, either with food products or with supplements, is associated with significant reductions of both systolic and diastolic BP. The hypotensive effect of potassium is particularly marked in patients with hypertension and in subjects with a very high sodium intake, suggesting that potassium counterbalances the effects of sodium. In addition, several meta-analyses have now confirmed that high potassium intake reduces the risk of stroke by ∼ 25%. Finally, increasing potassium in the diet may perhaps be beneficial for some renal patients, as post hoc analyses have suggested that a high potassium intake may retard the decline of renal function in patients with early chronic kidney disease (CKD) stages. However, high potassium intake may be risky and sometimes even dangerous in hypertensive patients with CKD stages 3-5, specifically diabetics. In this context, however, as the level of evidence remains low, more prospective clinical studies are needed. The goal of this review is to discuss the actual evidence that supports the recommendation to eat more potassium in order to better control BP in essential hypertension and to review the restrictions in CKD patients with hypertension.