High Blood Pressure is Most Afraid of Potassium Deficiency? 5 Signals Proving You Lack Potassium!


Mr. A has been suffering from high blood pressure for many years, always taking medication on time, and managing his blood pressure relatively well.

However, in the past few months, he noticed that he was constantly shaking and weak. Initially, he thought it was due to overwork and tried massaging to relieve it. But after some time with no improvement, he couldn’t even hold a water cup steadily, so he decided to go to the hospital for an examination.

After the examination, the doctor found that Mr. A’s trembling hands were due to low potassium levels, which was very dangerous. Fortunately, with timely treatment, his condition gradually improved.

However, what puzzled Mr. A was that despite taking antihypertensive medication as prescribed by the doctor, why did he still have a potassium deficiency?

1. Taking Antihypertensive Medication May Lead to Potassium Deficiency, More Dangerous Than Calcium Deficiency?

Potassium and sodium are essential trace elements in the human body. Normal potassium ion concentration is beneficial for maintaining activities such as nerve-muscle function, cell osmotic pressure, heart beating, fluid acid-base balance, and respiration.

According to statistics, 98% of potassium ions are inside cells, and the normal concentration of serum potassium is 3.5 to 5.5 millimoles per liter. If the serum potassium concentration is below 3.5 millimoles per liter, it is considered hypokalemia.

Dr. Gao Mingsong, Chief Physician of the Endocrinology Department at Wuhan First Hospital, pointed out that once the body lacks potassium, a series of symptoms may occur:

  1. Muscle weakness, especially in the lower limbs, is the earliest symptom.
  2. Palpitations, discomfort in the heart.
  3. Muscle cramps.
  4. Decreased heat tolerance.
  5. Loss of appetite, nausea, poor appetite, etc.

Severe hypokalemia or acute hypokalemia may also lead to arrhythmia, respiratory muscle paralysis, and even unexpected events such as cardiac arrest and sudden death.

According to statistics, there are nearly 300 million diagnosed hypertensive individuals in China. On average, 2 out of every 10 adults suffer from hypertension, and 50% of heart attacks and 70% of stroke deaths are related to hypertension.

So why does taking antihypertensive medication lead to potassium deficiency?

A cardiovascular internal medicine doctor at the hospital pointed out that 30% of hypertensive patients who take diuretics for a long time may experience hypokalemia. Diuretics achieve the antihypertensive effect by inhibiting the reabsorption of sodium in the renal tubules, but at the same time, they also promote the excretion of potassium from the body.

Therefore, long-term use of antihypertensive drugs may lead to potassium deficiency in hypertensive patients, and they may experience symptoms related to hypokalemia.

In addition to antihypertensive drugs, physiological factors such as medication, gastrointestinal factors, long-term selective eating, as well as pathological factors such as endocrine diseases and kidney diseases, may also lead to potassium deficiency.

Everyone knows the harm of calcium deficiency, but in fact, potassium deficiency may be more serious.

The chief of cardiovascular internal medicine pointed out that potassium deficiency will first affect heart function. If not treated in time, symptoms such as arrhythmia, fatigue, and shortness of breath may occur. Severe cases may even lead to sudden cardiac arrest. In addition, potassium deficiency can also cause neurological paralysis, muscle paralysis, difficulty swallowing, overall weakness, and other symptoms.

Therefore, when potassium deficiency is detected in the body, it needs to be given sufficient attention and potassium should be supplemented promptly.

2. After the Age of 65, Potassium Supplementation is More Important Than Calcium Supplementation, 7 Groups of People Need to Pay Attention

The chief endocrinologist stated that for older individuals, potassium supplementation is more important than calcium supplementation, especially for the following groups who need to pay more attention to potassium supplementation.

Diabetic patients: Diabetic patients often experience polyuria, leading to increased loss of potassium. Therefore, attention should be paid to potassium supplementation.

Heart failure patients: Heart failure patients taking corticosteroids, diuretics, and other medications may also experience potassium loss, so they should pay more attention to supplementation.

Hypertensive patients: Potassium has antihypertensive effects. When there is insufficient potassium and excessive sodium, it can lead to water-sodium retention, causing cellular edema, narrowing of blood vessels, and increased blood pressure. Hypertensive patients who supplement 2 grams of potassium daily may reduce the incidence of stroke by 21%.

Osteoporosis patients: Osteoporosis patients not only need calcium supplementation but also need to pay attention to potassium supplementation to prevent excessive loss of urinary calcium.

People who sweat a lot: People who sweat a lot, such as menopausal women, may experience significant potassium loss. It is advisable to pay attention to potassium supplementation through diet.

People with frequent diarrhea: For those who experience frequent diarrhea, there is a considerable loss of potassium. Therefore, attention should be paid to potassium supplementation.

People who need to lose weight: For individuals who tend to gain weight significantly due to excessive dietary intake, a high-sodium diet can promote water retention, leading to more obvious weight gain. Potassium helps eliminate excess water, so potassium supplementation should be emphasized.

3. Scientific Potassium Supplementation Has Principles, and Precautions Should Be Remembered

Although potassium deficiency is detrimental to health, potassium supplementation should not be taken lightly, as excessive potassium intake may lead to hyperkalemia, causing confusion and even sudden death in patients.

Scientific potassium supplementation should adhere to the following principles:

  1. Priority for Dietary Supplementation

There are various methods of potassium supplementation, including dietary supplementation, oral medications, and injectable solutions. However, for healthy individuals, dietary supplementation is the preferred option. Examples of potassium-rich foods include cantaloupe, honeydew, bananas, oranges, potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro, yams, millet, red beans, spinach, Chinese broccoli, mushrooms, and shiitake mushrooms.

  1. Moderate Potassium Supplementation

It is generally recommended to intake 2 grams of potassium per day. For individuals aiming to prevent chronic diseases, a daily intake of 3.6 grams of potassium is recommended.

  1. Supplement Magnesium Before Potassium

A lack of magnesium in the body can affect the absorption of potassium. Therefore, magnesium supplementation should precede potassium supplementation. It is recommended to consume 330 milligrams of magnesium per day, which can be obtained from green leafy vegetables, whole grains, seaweed, and nuts.

While potassium deficiency poses significant risks, especially for those prone to deficiency, attention should be given to potassium supplementation. Moreover, potassium supplementation should be moderate, and priority should be given to dietary supplementation.

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