As is common in America’s nearly 5.8 million citizens with heart failure, fluids accumulate in the body when the heart isn’t properly functioning. To help eliminate these fluids, doctors often prescribe diuretics. An unwanted side effect of the flushing out of the excess fluids is loss of potassium.
A new study states that taking potassium supplements could increase the survival of heart-failure patients already taking diuretics.
Potassium depletion can lead to dangerous heart-rhythm disturbances. To counterbalance the loss of potassium, doctors commonly recommend potassium supplements to their diuretic-prescribed heart-failure patients.
Recently, a team of researchers led by Charles Leonard, a senior research investigator in the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB), analyzed data from patients with heart failure who began taking diuretics between 1999 and 2007. Half of these patients took potassium supplements. The analysis revealed that the overall death risk among the whole group was 9 percent per year. However, among the half that took potassium supplements, there was a 16 percent lower risk of death. This information was published online in the journal PLoS One.
“Using potassium supplementation for patients receiving loop diuretic therapy may be a relatively inexpensive way to save lives,” said Sean Hennessy, Ph.D., in a Penn Medicine news release.