More than just sports hydration: Researchers outline association between electrolytes and blood pressure

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Ballykdy
Getty Images / Ballykdy

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Lowering sodium and increasing potassium intake may exert “convincing blood pressure lowering effects,” especially in hypertensive individuals, according to a paper by Austrian researchers.

Electrolytes—substances that produce an electrically conducting solution such as water—include the minerals sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, and phosphate.

In a paper published earlier this month in the journal Nutrients​, researchers from the Medical University Vienna argued that lowering sodium and increasing potassium intake may help lower blood pressure among individuals with high blood pressure.

“The maximum extent of systolic blood pressure lowering was approximately in the order of 8 to 9 mmHg, which roughly equals a monotherapy with an antihypertensive drug,”​ they reported.

Higher magnesium intake was also associated with beneficial effects on blood pressure, although the results were “rather moderate.”

These conclusions came after a review of 32 peer-reviewed meta-analyses published within the last 10 years that studied the effect or association between electrolytes and blood pressure.

More research needed for chloride, phosphorus, sulfur

The researchers reported that they did not find any meta-analyses summarizing the effects of chloride, phosphorus and sulfur on blood pressure or hypertension risk that met the eligibility criteria for inclusion in their analyses.

“In general, few studies are available, which assessed the effect of these electrolytes on blood pressure,”​ they reported. “There are indications from observational studies that there might be some effects, however robust evidence is missing.”

Additionally, they found that existing literature about the role of calcium in blood pressure so far suggests that its benefits are restricted to the prevention of hypertension during pregnancy.

This, they argued, is supported by the fact that low dietary calcium intake has been recognized as a risk factor for the development of hypertension especially for women with a history of gestational hypertension by health authorities such as the World Health Organization, which recommends​ daily calcium supplementation of 1.5–2.0 g oral elemental calcium for pregnant women in populations with low dietary calcium intake to reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia and related complications.

Future studies needed

These results were based on a summary of meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials and observational studies in humans that looked at the effects of electrolyte intake and blood pressure.

Reviews and summaries of meta-analyses, meta-analysis not including the primary outcome, (e.g., blood pressure reduction or hypertension risk), or meta-analysis with combined effects of two minerals were excluded.

The researchers used the databases PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar, and limited their search to English language papers only.

“Future clinical trials could determine the effect of different electrolytes on blood pressure by patients’ self-assessment of blood pressure with new validated mHealth devices,”​ they wrote.

Source: Nutrients
Published online,
“The Effect of Electrolytes on Blood Pressure: A Brief Summary of Meta-Analyses”
Authors: Sehar Iqbal, et al.

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