Potassium May Cut Death Rates with Diuretics
Giving extra potassium to everyone taking "water pills" might help people with heart failure live longer, a study suggests. Loop diuretics are often given for heart failure, which can cause people to retain fluid. Loop diuretics remove fluid through urine. But this also removes the important mineral potassium. The new study looked at Medicaid and death records for people in 5 states. Researchers focused on 360,000 Medicaid patients who began taking loop diuretics (often called "water pills") in a 6-year period. About half of them were prescribed potassium pills at the same time they got their first diuretic prescription. They were compared with similar patients who did not get potassium pills. About 9% of those in the study died each year. But death rates were lower for those who received a prescription for potassium at the same time as the loop diuretic.