Heart Beat: Paying attention to potassium in heart failure

Heart Beat

Paying attention to potassium in heart failure

Published: September, 2007

Heart failure poses a balancing problem for potassium, an essential mineral found in many foods. Too much potassium in the bloodstream, which can happen with the use of potassium-sparing diuretics (water pills), can cause potentially deadly heart rhythms. Too little, which can happen with the use of loop or thiazide diuretics, poses problems, too.

Diuretics fight the fluid buildup that often accompanies heart failure. Loop or thiazide diuretics cause the kidneys to flush out needed potassium along with excess water and sodium. A report in the June 1, 2007 European Heart Journal suggests that in people with mild to moderate heart failure, the resulting scarcity of potassium increases the chances of dying from progressive heart failure, a heart attack, or cardiac arrest.

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