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Getting enough potassium can help people with hypertension manage sleep apnea

Getting enough potassium can help people with hypertension manage sleep apnea

Potassium isn't talked about as much as some other important minerals, but it plays a crucial role in the body nonetheless. A recent study has found that potassium supplementation can help hypertensive patients to manage obstructive sleep apnea, a debilitating disorder that can cause daytime sleepiness and impaired concentration.

The study built on previous research that suggested sleep disorders are prevalent in people with hypertension because their respiratory muscles are weakened. The researchers recruited 31 hypertensive patients for the study with a median age of 50 years, giving 21 of them potassium supplements and 10 a placebo. The patients underwent polysomnography both before and after the supplementation period to determine the severity of their sleep apnea.

The researchers found that there were "significant improvements" in sleep apnea symptoms, measured by the number of disruptive breathing events in the potassium supplementation group, while the placebo group's level of symptoms remained the same. This suggests that correcting hypokalemia, or potassium deficiency, may help hypertension patients get a better night's sleep.

According to study author Dr. Nanfang Li of the Center for Hypertension in Xinjiang, China, this study supplied "preliminary evidence" that potassium supplementation may help to reduce the severity of sleep apnea in hypertensive patients, though it was still limited by its small sample size.

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