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High Blood Pressure Medicine - Potassium and Heart Arrhythmias

December 24th 2005

High Blood Pressure Medicine - Potassium and Heart Arrhythmias

See Chart below

It is important to monitor your blood pressure. It is called the silent killer for a reason.  Most people donít realize they have it.  The good news is there are treatments for hypertension (high blood pressure), and these treatments may save your life.  See your doctor for regular checkups.   

There are several causes for blood pressure including high cholesterol and hardening of the arteries.  Personally, my cholesterol was fine, but my blood pressure has risen with age.  My doctor prescribed me some medicine for treatment.

My blood pressure has been below 140 (systolic) for my whole life but when I turned 45 it rose to 150 and soon went even higher.  When I became sick I had it tested again and found it had risen to 180 over 90.


The doctor prescribed 20mg lisinopril.  This lowered the systolic pressure down to about 150.  But since it was still high the doctor prescribed Diovan HCT (valsartan-hydrochlorothiazide Ė 160/12.5 mg).  The HCT is a diuretic.  I began taking these medications about 7 months ago on a daily basis.

About 2 weeks ago I noticed what I thought were heart arrhythmias, usually when I was laying on my back.  I remember having them from time to time over my life, but not daily.  But these happened every day for a few days in a row. So I began to research.

I found that some people have cured irregular heartbeats by taking magnesium.  So I began taking some magnesium.  First I took one pill per day (about 25% of dayís requirement).  I didnít notice much of a difference.  Then one day I decided to up the dosage to 4 tablets. The arrhythmias went away.

My wife did a little research and found that diuretics can remove potassium and also cause arrhythmias.  So I began eating a banana in the morning and drinking Gatorade.  I noticed the arrhythmias came back even though I was taking the full dosage of magnesium.  What went wrong?

My wife started doing some more research.  She found that two of my high blood pressure drugs can actually raise my potassium levels. Combine that with excess water intake and the fact that I eat many fruits and vegetables a day, I believe my potassium levels probably increased, not decreased.

Look at your potassium supplements.  These supplements will usually have only 2 or 3 % of your daily allowance.  Your body keeps a very precise balance of potassium and it is dangerous to take too much of it.  Potassium and Sodium help control your muscles. 

According to my wife, who knows much more about nutrition than I do, eating calcium with your meals will help dump potassium from your system.  I found a site that lists foods with high and low potassium levels.  I will post the foods I found at the essortment.com website.   

I am not a doctor, so always check with your doctor if you have arrhythmias.   I will probably see my doctor next week. 

Food Potassium Levels Chart
High Potassium Levels Moderate Potassium levels Low Potassium Levels
All meats, poultry and fish are high in potassium.

Apricots (fresh more so than canned)






Lima beans


Oranges and orange juice

Potatoes (can be reduced to moderate by soaking peeled, sliced potatoes overnight before cooking)




Vegetable juice

Winter squash


Apple juice










Green peas

Loose-leaf lettuce

Mushrooms, fresh








Summer squash, including zucchini





Bell peppers




Cranberry juice


Fruit cocktail


Green beans

Iceberg lettuce

Mandarin oranges, canned


Peaches, canned

Pineapple, fresh



These food potassium levels are based on a 1/2 cup serving.  A high level is 225 mg or more per serving.  A moderate potassium level was 125-225 mg per serving.  A low level of potassium was less than 125 mg per serving.

Footnote: The latest research suggests that lactic acid buildup (known as acidosis) is a relatively weak contributor to muscle fatigue at high intensities. It now seems that a much stronger cause is a type of neuromotor fatigue, specifically, depolarization of the muscle cells resulting from a shift in calcium-potassium balance.

Here's the new theory: Muscle contractions are stimulated by electrical currents that flow throughout the body via minerals including sodium and potassium. Each muscle cell contraction involves a lightning-fast exchange in which potassium molecules inside the muscle cell and sodium molecules outside the muscle cell switch places. These exchanges are most efficient when there is a high degree of polarization (a difference in the strength of the electrical charge) between the spaces inside and outside the cells. At the beginning of high-intensity exercise, the inside of the muscle cell has a much stronger positive charge than the area outside the muscle cell. This difference in charge strength makes it easy for sodium and potassium to cross the cell membrane. During sustained high-intensity activity, potassium is released from the muscle cells faster than it can be taken up outside the muscle cells. The resulting buildup of potassium outside the muscle cells causes a progressive lessening of the difference in charge strength between the intracellular and intercellular spaces, hence weaker and less efficient muscle contractions (i.e., fatigue).  more info.

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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

Books on High Blood Pressure

Keywords and misspellings:  potasseum pottasium pottaseum  high blood presure stroke hi blood pressure

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:40 PM