Low potassium levels likely to trigger high blood pressure

November 10th, 2008 - 1:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 10 (IANS) Low potassium levels are likely to trigger high blood pressure, thanks to a specific gene, says a new study.”There has been a lot of publicity about lowering salt or sodium in the diet, but not enough on increasing dietary potassium,” said the study’s co-author Susan Hedayati, of the University of Texas (U-T) Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas, Texas.

Researchers analysed data on approximately 3,300 subjects from the Dallas Heart Study, half of whom were African American. The results showed that the amount of potassium in urine samples was strongly related to blood pressure (BP).

“The lower the potassium in the urine, hence the lower the potassium in the diet, the higher the blood pressure,” said Hedayati. “This effect was even stronger than the effect of sodium on blood pressure.”

The link between low potassium and high BP remained significant even when age, race, and other cardiovascular risk factors - including high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking - were taken into account, said an U-T release.

Research by Chou-Long Huang, co-author of this study, found evidence that a specific gene, called WNK1, may be responsible for potassium’s effects on BP.

“We are currently doing more research to test how low potassium in the diet affects blood pressure through the activity of this gene,” added Hedayati.

Co-authors include Abu Minhajuddin, Orson W. Moe and Chou-Long Huang.

These findings were presented at the American Society of Nephrology 41st annual meting in Philadelphia.

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