Tips from Other Journals

Relationship Between Oral Potassium and Blood Pressure

Am Fam Physician. 1998 Feb 1;57(3):546.

It is known that potassium levels and blood pressure are inversely related. Whelton and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to determine the effects of supplementation with oral potassium on blood pressure.

Studies were included in the analysis if they were based on human experimentation, had randomly assigned study participants to groups, had a control group that was not substantively different from the treatment group and reported mean changes in blood pressure. In the 33 trials analyzed, the median length of treatment was five weeks. The median amount of daily potassium supplementation was 75 mmol. Pretreatment blood pressures averaged 147/95 mm Hg.

The groups treated with potassium had an average change in systolic blood pressure from a decrease of 41.0 to an increase of 2.8 mm Hg and changes in diastolic blood pressure from a decrease of 17.0 to an increase of 4.8 mm Hg. In one third of the trials, the change in blood pressure was statistically significant. There were no significant adverse effects. The size of the effect of potassium on blood pressure was small (a decrease of 3.1 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure and a decrease of 1.97 mm Hg for diastolic blood pressure).

The authors conclude that this and previous studies support the idea that potassium supplementation has a role in the treatment of hypertension. However, further studies are clearly needed.

Whelton PK, et al. Effects of oral potassium on blood pressure: meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. JAMA. 1997;277:1624–32.


Copyright © 1998 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact afpserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


Article Tools

  • Print page
  • Share this page
  • AFP CME Quiz

Information From Industry

Navigate this Article