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What are potassium supplements used to treat?

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Quick Answer

Doctors typically use potassium to treat and prevent low potassium levels, heart attacks and irregular heartbeats, according to WebMD. Other possible uses of potassium supplements include reducing calcium levels in the urine, controlling high blood pressure and lowering the risk of stroke.

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Full Answer

Potassium is an essential mineral that contributes to the proper functioning of the body, especially in muscle contractions, fluid balance and the delivery of nerve signals, states WebMD. Fruits, vegetables, milk and cereals are rich in potassium.

Patients with hypokalemia, a condition in which the blood has low potassium levels, may receive potassium intravenously or by mouth, says WebMD. Potassium is also likely effective in treating hypercalciuria, or high calcium levels in the urine, when taken by mouth. People should take no more than 90 milliequivalents of total potassium from food sources and supplements to avoid side effects, such as nausea and diarrhea.

Potassium can decrease systolic blood pressure by approximately 2 to 4 millimeters of mercury, and it can reduce diastolic blood pressure by around 0.5 to 3.5 millimeters of mercury, notes WebMD. While there is no sufficient evidence that potassium can reduce the risk of stroke, research suggests that eating meals with at least 350 milligrams of potassium in each serving may lower the risk of stroke.

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