Objectives: Our study objectives were as follows: (1) to determine whether urinary excretion of potassium is lower in black than in white children, (2) to determine whether cardiovascular reactivity (CVR) varies inversely with dietary intake of potassium, and (3) to confirm that CVR is greater in black than in white children, and in children with a family history of hypertension than in those without such a history.
Study design: Baseline measurements included 24-hour urinary sodium, potassium, and creatinine levels and food intake (by questionnaire). Resting and stress blood pressure were measured during blood sampling, cold water foot immersion, and a video game before and after 1 week each of supplementation with potassium citrate, 1.5 mmol/kg per day, and placebo administered in random order.
Results: Thirty-nine children aged 7 to 15 years were studied. White subjects had higher baseline excretion of potassium than black subjects (p < 0.001) and higher vegetable intake (p < 0.01), which were positively correlated (r = 0.53, p < 0.001). At baseline, the 24-hour urinary potassium/creatinine ratio varied inversely with diastolic CVR to the video game stressor in white children (r = -0.55, p = 0.02). Cardiovascular reactivity was not attenuated measurably by potassium supplementation compared with placebo. The CVR was greater in children with a family history of hypertension than in those without, but was not greater in black children than in white children.
Conclusions: The urinary potassium/creatinine ratio is higher in white than black children because their intake of vegetables is greater; dietary potassium intake may modulate CVR, particularly in white children with a family history of hypertension, but may need to be supplemented for more than 1 week to demonstrate attenuation of CVR; and a family history of hypertension may be a stronger predictor of enhanced CVR than is race.