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Does potassium treat high blood pressure and prevent stroke?

According a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, most Americans are falling short of their daily potassium needs, which could be wreaking havoc with their blood pressure. Over 55 percent of Americans have high blood pressure or are on their way to getting high blood pressure in the very near future according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.

Individuals with chronic high blood pressure increase their risk of developing heart disease and stroke, two of the top three killers of Americans. While losing excess weight, reducing sodium in the diet, and being physically active all can reduce blood pressure, so can consuming adequate amounts of potassium-rich foods.

Research suggests that a diet plentiful in potassium lowers blood pressure, especially in salt-sensitive individuals who respond more intensely to sodium’s blood pressure -- raising capabilities. Potassium helps negate some of the blood pressure-raising effects of excessive dietary sodium as it causes the kidneys to excrete excess sodium from the body. Reducing sodium levels in the body helps lower blood pressure.
Potassium is considered a possibly effective treatment for high blood pressure and stroke prevention. This form of treatment is still being researched and may not be safe or effective for all patients.

Insufficient dietary potassium may be linked to high blood pressure. Therefore, getting additional potassium through a supplement may help to keep blood pressure down and, in turn, lower the risk of stroke. Talk to your doctor about all medications and supplements you are taking.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.