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Effect of potassium supplementation on blood pressure in Chinese: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial

Gu, Dongfenga,b; He, Jiangb,c; Wu, Xiguia,b; Duan, Xiufanga; Whelton, Paul K.b,c

Original papers: Therapeutic aspects

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.

aCardiovascular Institute and Fuwai Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, PR China, bDepartment of Epidemiology, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA , USA and cDepartment of Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Received 8 November 2000

Revised 22 February 2001

Accepted 5 March 2001

Sponsorship: Supported by a Career Development Award from the Dean's Office, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (J.H.). Potassium chloride tablets were supplied by the Xiang Yang Pharmaceuticals, Beijing, PR China.

Correspondence and requests for reprints to Jiang He, Department of Epidemiology, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, 1430 Tulane Avenue SL 18, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112-2699, USA. Tel: +504 588 5165; fax: +504 988 1568; e-mail:

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.