Objective: To examine the effect of potassium supplementation on blood pressure (BP) in a Chinese population who consume a habitual high sodium and low potassium diet.
Design: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Setting: Community sample from Beijing, China.
Participants: A total of 150 men and women aged 35–64 years with an initial systolic BP 130−159 mmHg and/or diastolic BP 80−94 mmHg.
Interventions: Participants were randomly assigned to take 60 mmol potassium chloride supplement or placebo for 12 weeks.
Main outcome measure(s): BP measurements were obtained at baseline, and at 6 weeks and 12 weeks during the trial, using random-zero sphygmomanometers.
Results: The average baseline urinary excretion of sodium and potassium was 182 mmol/24 h and 36 mmol/24 h. Baseline BP and other measured variables were similar between the potassium supplementation and placebo groups. In the active compared to the placebo treatment group, the urinary excretion of potassium was significantly increased by 20.6 mmol/24 h (P < 0.001) during 12 weeks of intervention. Compared to placebo, active treatment was associated with a significant reduction in systolic BP (− 5.00 mmHg, 95% CI: − 2.13 to − 7.88 mmHg, P < 0.001) but not diastolic BP (− 0.63 mmHg, 95% CI: − 2.49 to1.23 mmHg, P = 0.51) during 12-week intervention.
Conclusion: These data indicate that moderate potassium supplementation resulted in a substantial reduction in systolic BP. Our findings suggest that increased potassium intake may play an important role in the prevention and treatment of hypertension in China.