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Low potassium levels in heart failure patients with chronic kidney disease

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

A recent study conducted by investigators from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has found that patients with heart failure and chronic kidney disease (CKD) who have low potassium levels are at an increased risk of hospitalization or death.

"Hypokalemia, or low potassium, is common in heart failure patients and is associated with poor outcomes, as is chronic kidney disease," said study author C. Barrett Bowlin. "But little is known about the prevalence and effect of hypokalemia in heart failure patients who also have CKD."

In the study, the UAB researchers monitored more than 1,044 heart failure patients who were suffering from CKD. Following a 57-month period, death occurred in 48 percent of patients with hypokalemia, compared with only 36 percent of those with normal levels of the nutrient.

Moreover, the hospitalization rate was slightly elevated for subjects with hypokalemia compared to those with adequate blood levels of potassium.

Bowling noted that the study's findings indicate that heart failure patients with CKD should routinely monitor and carefully maintain adequate serum potassium levels.

The Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences has estimated the minimum requirements for potassium for adults to be 2,000 milligrams per day.

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