High potassium intake blunts the effect of elevated sodium intake on blood pressure levels

J Am Soc Hypertens. 2014 Apr;8(4):232-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jash.2014.01.001. Epub 2014 Jan 7.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of dietary potassium on the sodium effect on blood pressure (BP) in the general population and the adherence of current recommendations for sodium and potassium intake. An overnight (12-hour) urine sample was collected in a population-based study to investigate cardiovascular risk. A sub-sample of 1285 subjects (age range, 25-64 years) free from any medication interfering with BP or potassium excretion was studied. Of the participants, 86.0% consumed over 6 g of salt/day and 87.7% less than the recommended intake of potassium (4.7 g). Potassium excretion and the sodium to potassium ratio were significantly related to systolic and diastolic BP only in subjects consuming more than 6 g/day of salt. Subjects in the highest sodium to potassium ratio quartile (surrogate of unhealthy diet) presented 8 mm Hg and 7 mm Hg higher values of systolic and diastolic BP, respectively, when compared with the first quartile, while individuals in the fourth quartile of urinary potassium excretion (healthier diet) showed 6 mm Hg and 4 mm Hg lower systolic and diastolic BP, respectively, compared with the first quartile. Our data indicate that when people have an increased intake of potassium, high intake of sodium is not associated with higher BP.

Keywords: Blood pressure; hypertension; potassium; sodium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Potassium / administration & dosage*
  • Potassium / urine
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sodium / administration & dosage*
  • Sodium / urine
  • Urban Population


  • Biomarkers
  • Sodium
  • Potassium