Discussions that mention potassium

High & Low Blood Pressure board

Does anyone have a firm recommendation from their MD to eat a banana or other good potassium source everyday when taking HCTZ?
I have been on 25 mg HCTZ for a number of years. Although my doctor never recommended eating more potassium rich foods, I began getting leg cramps during the night. I began taking a potassium supplement 1/day which seemed to alleviate the cramping. My doctor is aware that I'm taking the potassium.

I'm sure eating a banana, drinking OJ, and eating other potassium rich foods would be beneficial to help prevent any depletion of potassium.
We as drug consumers have to take responsibility for our health while taking these potent b/p meds. If you wait for your Dr. to tell you all you need to know, you may be in deep trouble in the ER.

What I have learned in the past 5 yrs is to ask for the package insert BEFORE filling the prescription. I read it thoroughly even if I don't understand it all. I'm looking for possible drug interactions, allergic ingredients, & bad outcomes if I have other illnesses. Once you buy the drug, you can't get a refund even if you never opened the package. I learned that the hard way even though I was still at the counter reading the package info.

Most Dr's just do not have the time to go over everything even the most important points. The insurance companies just alot them a certain amount of minutes with each patient.

I've been on HCTZ for about 4 yrs. I've only gotten into trouble with electrolytes such as potassium about 2-3 times. These occurred when I had a bad cold & just didn't feel like eating or drinking much. That is no longer a luxury when one is on HCTZ.
You have to have a sick day plan like a diabetic.

Potassium depletion is the biggy with HCTZ. I made a list of the foods I usually eat to make sure I was getting enough potassium.
Then I listed the symptoms of too little potassium so that I would be alerted early to the possibility. For me I get a little nausea (which is usually rare for me) & my b/p drops for no known reason. I then load up on orange juice & low fat milk. You need to get your blood potassium checked about 1-2 weeks after starting HCTZ & then once you are stabilized every 6 months.

The body doesn't store potassium although it does have ways of upping the level for a day or so. Too much potassium can stop the heart. I wouldn't take a potassium supplement without a DR's okay & a blood test. If for some reason you can't eat enough potassium or have some condition that increases potassium loss such as constant diarrhea or vomiting, then you may need a supplement. Eating potassium rich foods is good for one's b/p.

Don't go salt free because your body loses a lot of sodium with a diuretic. I eat at least 1/2 tsp of salt every day with food. That's also the amount that contains enough iodine to keep one's thyroid functioning properly.

Water or other fluid must for consumed so that one's urine is pale yellow or lighter. I aim for about 10 (8oz) glasses of fluid a day so that I hopefully prevent Gout which can be one of the side effects of diuretics. Avoid drinking any fluid fast as that will raise one's b/p. I find drinking before I eat the best so I have a have a mug of hot or cold water before breakfast while I exercise in the AM.

HCTZ causes a certain amount of calcium to be retained so check with your Dr. before taking calcium supplements. He can check your blood calcium levels. Too much calcium can damage the kidneys & cause kidney stones. Drs forget the fact that HCTZ cause calcium to be retained so you may have to gently remind them.

One last thing which is very important. Most medical articles & Dr's say that only 12.5mg of HCTZ is needed to control b/p. More is not better with these drugs because of the potential adverse effects. In general, it is better to start on the lowest dose of any med so that you can see if it is enough & if there are any side effects.

Good luck. There are lot of people on this drug so ask all the questions you want & you'll probably find someone who knows the answer. Fam
Fam has covered several topics in her informative post. :)

Just a reminder that people with kidney disease have to be especially careful about their potassium levels. Many kidney conditions and other factors result in an excessive potassium removal through the kidneys. One of these factors is a low level of magnesium - hypomagnesemia.
Magnesium is an important factor for potassium uptake and the maintenance of potassium intracellular levels. This is one of the reasons having a healthy level of magnesium is so important.

Another way the potassium is lost is by being shifted into cells. This shift is stimulated by insulin and glucose, especially after meals, and made possible by beta blockers.
People with reduced kidney function and/or chronic kidney disease who are on diuretics, ACE inhibitors and/or beta blockers should have their K levels carefully monitored. Any potassium-sparing meds MUST be used with extreme caution. Ironically, they can cause hyperkalemia while helping prevent hypokalemia. :(

Hyperkalemia can be caused by ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, alpha blockers, ARBs, potassium-sparing diuretics, NSAIDS and other meds.

Hypokalemia can be caused by beta adrenergic agonists (epinephrine), decongestants, bronchodilators, thiazide diuretics and other meds.
In people with a decreased renal function and the elderly, many medications necessitate a reduction in a dose. Diuretics often require a dose INCREASE so that sufficient levels can be attained at their site of action (in the renal tubules).

I actually did have a nurse tell me to eat banannas for potassium when taking HCTZ. I was having pain in my legs and it really did help. I also drink gatorade which is good for potassium and electrytes. MY dr. prescribed 25mg but I split the pill in half and actually it lowered my blood pressure and am holding my own right now. He also suggest I take .25 ativan twice a day which I do plus my 2 Univasc. It seems to have put me back on track.