Potassium and Your Heart
Potassium and Your Heart continued...
Potassium and abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
For people with abnormal heart rhythms, potassium may be even more important. Potassium is hiding inside every heartbeat. Each heart muscle needs just the right potassium balance in order to contract in a coordinated fashion.
People who've had abnormal heart rhythms -- arrhythmias or dysrhythmias -- are at risk for an uncoordinated heart rhythm. Some abnormal heart rhythms include:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Atrial flutter
- Ventricular tachycardia
- Ventricular fibrillation
- Supraventricular tachycardia
People with a history of arrhythmias should see a doctor on a regular basis. A periodic potassium check might be part of your routine doctor’s visits.
Potassium and heart failure
For many people with heart failure (also called congestive heart failure), getting enough potassium is especially important. Some diuretics -- water pills -- for heart failure can cause you to lose potassium in the urine. Potassium supplements or a potassium-rich diet can put it back. Ask your doctor before starting a potassium supplement on your own, because it may not be necessary.
Potassium: How Much Is Necessary?
When it comes to potassium, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Healthy people shouldn't have any problems from eating a high-potassium diet or taking potassium supplements as directed. But people with kidney problems or certain other conditions such as the following need to be cautious about potassium intake:
How much potassium should you be eating? The easiest thing to do is to increase the amount of high-potassium fruits and vegetables in your diet. You'll be getting plenty of potassium -- with no calculator required.
If you really feel like counting, the USDA recommends 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day. You can find the potassium content in foods on their package labels or from the USDA Web site: www.nal.usda.gov.