Is low potassium intake a risk factor for the development of hypertension and/or hypertensive end-organ damage?

Updated: Dec 06, 2018
  • Author: Eleanor Lederer, MD, FASN; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
  • Print
Answer

Low potassium intake has been implicated as a risk factor for the development of hypertension and/or hypertensive end-organ damage. Hypokalemia leads to altered vascular reactivity, likely from the effects of potassium depletion on the expression of adrenergic receptors, angiotensin receptors, and mediators of vascular relaxation. The result is enhanced vasoconstriction and impaired relaxation, which may play a role in the development of diverse clinical sequelae, such as ischemic central nervous system events or rhabdomyolysis.

Treatment of hypertension with diuretics without due attention to potassium homeostasis exacerbates the development of end-organ damage by fueling the metabolic abnormalities. These patients are then at higher risk for lethal hypokalemia under stress conditions such as myocardial infarction, septic shock, or diabetic ketoacidosis.


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!