Objective: Recent nutritional profiles of dietary intake have indicated a shift from the ancient diet to the Western diet. The ancient diet provided a high potassium and low sodium intake, which in turn leads to sodium conservation and potassium excretion. This change in the dietary intake is expected to affect potassium and sodium handling in the kidneys. Numerous studies have been done to emphasize the importance of sodium handling by the kidneys and its impact on cardiovascular health. This study will investigate potassium intake and handling, and its impact on the cardiovascular health of a sample of normotensive Afro-Caribbeans by the possible modulation of the renin angiotensin aldosterone system (RAAS).
Methods: A convenient sample of 51 normotensive Afro-Caribbean participants was recruited for the study. Participants were observed over a two-day period in which they were given a 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitor and a container to collect blood pressure data and a 24-hour urine sample. Anthropometric measurements were noted. Urinary electrolytes and supine plasma renin activity (PRA) were determined from the 24-hour urine and a blood sample. Dietary potassium intake was estimated based on observations made at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, and also calculated based on the urinary potassium excretion. SPSS version 19 was used to analyse the data to make inferences.
Results: The daily potassium intake was observed to be 2.95 g/day and measured intake from the urinary potassium was between 4.95 and 7.32 g/day. Urinary potassium excretion was 3.66 (± 1.40) g/day. The urinary potassium excretion in the Afro-Caribbean sample in Barbados was higher than the other population samples. The averaged PRA of the participants (supine) was 0.778 (± 1.072) ng/mL/hour. The averaged nocturnal systolic blood pressure dip of the participants was 5.97 (± 4.324) %. There was no significant correlation between urinary potassium excretion, blood pressure, nocturnal systolic blood pressure dip and PRA.
Conclusions: The Afro-Caribbean sample has an inadequate daily potassium intake based on the observed intake and recommended values, with a high urinary excretion of the electrolyte compared to other values in the literature. This high potassium excretion could have been partly due to low plasma renin activity levels in the study participants. As a possible consequence, an increase in the nocturnal peripheral resistance is a likely cause for the diminished systolic dip. The lack of correlations between dietary potassium excretion and the blood pressure parameters does not allow any firm inference of the electrolyte’s handling and its impact on cardiovascular health in the normotensive Afro-Caribbean participants. However, further research is needed to get a more accurate daily potassium intake value, and a more statistically robust sample to assess whether potassium handling and blood pressure would be affected by a change in potassium intake.