Potassium supplements might boost the survival of heart failure patients who are already taking diuretic drugs, a new study suggests. Nearly 5.8 million American have heart failure. As doctors explain it, excess fluid can accumulate in the body when the heart isn’t working properly, as happens in people with heart failure.
Drugs called loop diuretics — also called “water pills” — help remove excess fluid, but also flush potassium, a mineral, out of the body.
"For the heart failure population, diuretics are a common and necessary part of a patient’s daily regimen," said Dr. Tara Narula, associate director of the Cardiac Care Unit at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "Unfortunately they come with the common side effect of potassium depletion, which can lead to dangerous heart rhythm disturbances."
Because of that, many doctors prescribe potassium supplements to heart failure patients taking diuretics. According to the authors of the new study, theirs is the first to examine the survival benefits of potassium supplements in this group of patients.