Potassium May Reduce Stroke Risk

Researchers have found that people with a diet low in potassium have a higher risk of stroke. There are several reasons for this: Potassium can lower blood pressure, can reduce the stickiness of blood platelets, and can improve the functional integrity of blood vessels. In a recent study, researchers examined the link between incidence of stroke and blood potassium levels and intake. They followed 5,600 people age 65 and older from four communities for up to eight years. Those who took diuretics (which can increase the excretion of potassium) and showed a lower initial serum potassium concentration had a 2.5 times greater risk of stroke than participants who had higher initial blood potassium levels. Among subjects who didn't take diuretics, those with the lowest dietary potassium intakes had a 1.76 times greater risk of stroke than those with the highest dietary potassium intakes. Although this study lends credence to the premise that potassium levels and potassium intake are predictors of stroke risk, what remains to be shown is whether increasing potassium intake through diet or supplements can prevent stroke.

Nutrition and exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, MS, has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies, is co-founder of Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS), and is founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition.