Does your heart need more potassium?

An encouraging new study found a connection between potassium and healthier blood vessels.

Through tests conducted on mice, researchers at the University of Alabama-Birmingham recently discovered that an increased potassium intake
could reduce the risk of pathogenic vascular calcification and aortic stiffness, conditions that can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Further, a recent report from Harvard Medical School indicated that consuming recommended amounts of potassium lowers a person’s blood pressure and may encourage the walls of the blood vessels to relax.

Before you assume that foods high in potassium are a quick fix to certain medical issues, however, Rajesh Maddikunta, MD, cardiovascular physician with HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital and OakLeaf Clinics, suggests that further study is necessary. “I think there is value in the findings of these studies,” Dr. Maddikunta says. “But more research needs to be done to determine specifics. Potassium deficiency might be a more complicated matter than just that of consumption.”

In the meantime, though, it wouldn’t hurt to add more potatoes, bananas, and spinach to your diet— as the Harvard report also noted that the majority of Americans consume less than half the daily recommended amount of potassium.

Learn about your risk for heart disease by visiting sacredhearteauclaire.org/medical-services/heart-center and taking our online Heart Aware Assessment.

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