Eat More Potassium Foods When Taking Diuretic Drugs

September 29, 2011 6 Comments

Question: I have high blood pressure and was put on medication plus hydrochlorothiazide. I started to lose potassium and had to come off the HTZ. Now I can’t get my blood pressure down. Any suggestions? — Pamilia, via email

Answer: HTZ is a diuretic, or “water pill,” that’s a frontline treatment for lowering blood pressure. It works by triggering your kidneys to flush out excess water and salt, but potassium often gets flushed, too — right down the toilet.

Usually it’s a mild deficiency that can be cured by eating potassium-rich foods and taking a supplement. But there’s a conundrum: A solid amount of potassium (plus calcium and magnesium) may be important for keeping your BP down…

Read the original article at the San Francisco Examiner for more.

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6 Comments to “Eat More Potassium Foods When Taking Diuretic Drugs”
  1. Jack says:

    Lactaid Milk used by people who are lactose intolerant has a higher amount of potassium than regular milk. An 8oz glass for lunch solved my irregular blood pressure problem.

  2. Bill says:

    Thanks, Jack. Interesting. For those who are unfamiliar, lactose-intolerant people are those who don’t have the enzyme (called lactate) that breaks down the sugar lactose in milk. Because they lack lactate, the lactose is instead broken down by the intestine, which has a laxative effect that can cause bloating, cramps and diarrhea. And diarrhea is a good way to deplete your body of potassium.
    I see that Lactaid has 350mg of potassium per cup, which puts it squarely between whole milk (322mg) and nonfat milk (383mg). Interestingly, chocolate nonfat milk offers 425mg per cup.
    Lactaid works by adding the enzyme lactate to its milk products – as simple as that. It is perfectly safe for non lactose-intolerant people to drink as well.

  3. Steven says:

    I was not aware of diuretics lowering my potassium levels and causing an electrolyte imbalance in my blood, this caused me to have heart palpitations, or a feeling of occasional “flutters” in my chest.
    After going to the ER, I was given KCL pills and everything has been fine since then, I am still on my HCTZ pills, and am eating potassium rich foods, I am getting a blood test to see if I can keep this up without having to take potassium pills.

  4. Bill says:

    Hope you can keep the levels up, Steven. Nice thing about foods high in potassium is that many are very low calorie – so it’s possible to eat more. Watch the salt, though!:)

  5. Karen says:

    I recently had an episode of SVT – not fun – and found out that I was extremly low in potassium. My question is why on this list is “boiled and drained” on celery and broccoli? Aren’t they better raw?
    Sodium isn’t my big problem, stress is. I need to find ways to de-stress.

  6. Bill says:

    Thanks for pointing that out, Karen. Yes, broccoli has more nutrition raw (and the bioavailability should be OK, too). I added the raw values and a clarification of weight. I eat both ways. The problem in my house is that my kids won’t eat it raw, but love it cooked with a bit of butter. Hard to find that balance.

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