Low potassium levels may lead to an increased risk of hospitalization or death in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and heart failure, according to a new study.
"Hypokalemia, or low potassium, is common in heart-failure patients and is associated with poor outcomes, as is chronic kidney disease," said study author C. Barrett Bowling, fellow at the University of Alabama at Birmingham division of gerontology.
"But little is known about the prevalence and effect of hypokalemia in heart-failure patients who also have CKD," he added.
In the study, researchers examined data from more than 1,000 patients suffering from CKD and heart failure. During the 57-month follow-up period, a total of 48 percent of patients with hypokalemia died, compared to only 36 percent of individuals with normal potassium levels. The hospitalization rate was also slightly higher for those with moderate to high hypokalemia.
The researchers concluded that physicians need to be aware of the risks heart failure and CKD patients with mildly low potassium levels may be facing.
Several major food groups that are high in potassium include root vegetables, fresh fruit, dairy and white meats.