Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Potassium Increase Cuts Stroke by 20%

There are few medical conditions that people fear more than a stroke.  We know that blood pressure control and lowering cholesterol levels reduces stroke risk.  Now, thanks to a huge analysis from Italy, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, we know that higher dietary consumption of potassium is associated with lower rates of stroke and could also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and total cardiovascular disease too.  What is even more remarkable is that the results apply to all parts of society and not just to specific "at-risk" subgroups.

Most doctors are not even aware of how important it is to eat potassium rich foods.  And what are these foods that have potassium?  Surprise...it is fruits and vegetables like bananas, tomatoes, oranges, apricots, most legumes, spinach, winter squash, avocado kiwi and cantaloupe.  Actually almost all fruits and vegies have moderate to high potassium content.

The researchers looked a number of well done studies that included 247, 510 participants over 30 years and found that those patients with the higher potassium intake reduced their stroke risk by 21%.  The Italian doctors say the protective effect of potassium against stroke is in part due to its blood pressure lowering effects and also due to other properties of the potassium mineral, such as the inhibition of free radical formation.

I have written before about the DASH diet which also found that reduction of sodium and addition of fruits and vegetables to the diet is an effective way to control blood pressure.  The Dash diet is high in potassium.

Think about it.  Did you have 5 fruits and vegetables today?  Numerous studies have shown the life-prolonging benefits.  This new study just adds to what we already know.  I challenge all readers to keep a diet count and make sure you are eating 5 fruits and vegetable servings a day, every day to help reduce your risk of stroke, cancer and heart attack.

55 comments:

interactive flash maps said...
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KM said...

What a GREAT post Dr.Brayer on a positive ray of hope to reduce the risk of this unfortunately all too familiar condition!!! I remember you previously writing about DASH. I guess testing the potassium level is helpful when there is a family history. Thank you for the education on this valuable new study!

Stop smoking help said...

I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy a few years back and have eaten a modified DASH diet to keep sodium low. It took about 2 months to adjust but now I love it because you can actually taste the food instead of just tasting the salt.

A side benefit is that I feel better because the foods I'm eating are healthier.

Thanks for the great post.

mahjong said...

I guess testing the potassium level is helpful when there is a family history. Thank you for the education on this valuable new study

Toni Brayer, MD said...

mahjong: The interesting thing about this analysis is that family history and risk did not have to be present for higher potassium intake to be effective. The key is not just testing the potassium level because either high or low potassium blood levels are treated a different way.
The normal kidney will keep the blood potassium within a normal range (by excreting what it doesn't need) so this was not blood test driven.

High potassium diets led to healthier outcomes, no matter what the blood level or family risk was.

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The largest meta-analysis conducted to date examining the impact of potassium intake on cardiovascular outcomes have found that increasing dietary intake of this mineral is associated with lower rates of stroke and may also reduce the risk coronary disease.

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Potassium Increase Cuts Stroke by 20%. Posted by admin on Mar 3rd, 2011 and filed under Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS.