Potassium in hypertension and cardiovascular disease

Semin Nephrol. 2013 May;33(3):277-89. doi: 10.1016/j.semnephrol.2013.04.008.


The increased prevalence of hypertension and cardiovascular disease in industrialized societies undoubtedly is associated with the modern high-sodium/low-potassium diet. Extensive experimental and clinical data strongly link potassium intake to cardiovascular outcome. Most studies suggest that the sodium-to-potassium intake ratio is a better predictor of cardiovascular outcome than either nutrient individually. A high-sodium/low-potassium environment results in significant abnormalities in central hemodynamics, leading to potential target organ damage. Altered renal sodium handling, impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilatation, and increased oxidative stress are important mediators of this effect. It remains of paramount importance to reinforce consumption of a low-sodium/high-potassium diet as a critical strategy for prevention and treatment of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Keywords: Endothelium; dietary sodium/potassium; hypertension; nitric oxide; oxidative stress; pulse pressure; pulse wave velocity; stroke.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular System / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / metabolism*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Kidney Tubules / metabolism*
  • Kidney Tubules / physiopathology
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Potassium / metabolism*
  • Potassium, Dietary / metabolism*
  • Pulse Wave Analysis
  • Sodium, Dietary / metabolism
  • Vasodilation / physiology


  • Potassium, Dietary
  • Sodium, Dietary
  • Potassium