Do Diuretics or Water Pills Now Cause Heart Attacks

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/14/2024

Thiazide Diuretics Side Effects: Focus on Potassium Deficiency

Thiazide diuretics, commonly utilized to treat hypertension, can have adverse effects. Thiazide diuretics have been linked to hypokalemia, a condition of low potassium levels in the body.

Learn about the connection between thiazide diuretics and hypokalemia. Discover how reduced potassium levels can elevate risks for cardiovascular issues and discuss common physical signs that might indicate a deficiency.

Diuretics and Potassium Deficiency: A Tricky Balance

Thiazide diuretics help manage blood pressure but can also cause potassium deficiency. That's terrible news because potassium is essential for nerve signals, muscle contractions, and heart rhythm.

Why thiazides and hypokalemia go hand in hand

Thiazides flush out excess fluid, but they also flush out potassium. Up to 40% of individuals consuming thiazides can experience hypokalemia, a decrease in potassium levels.

Low potassium levels = high cardiovascular risks

When potassium levels drop, so does heart function. Decreased potassium levels can cause arrhythmias and other cardiac issues, which may consequently lead to heightened cardiovascular risks such as hypertension and stroke.

Studies show that even mild hypokalemia can escalate cardiovascular risks, including high blood pressure and stroke.

While you should not let this scare you away from diuretics should you need them, it is important that you are conscious of the potential dangers and collaborate with your medical practitioner to control them.

Signs of Low Potassium Levels

Potassium is a big deal for your body. Hypokalemia can occur when insufficient potassium is consumed, resulting in physical symptoms that should be taken seriously. This can lead to some noticeable physical symptoms that you shouldn't ignore.

Physical Signs of Low Potassium

Don't wait until it's too late to recognize these early indicators of potassium deficiency:

  • Cramps and Spasms: Ouch. These sudden contractions are a common sign of low potassium.

  • Tetany: Involuntary twitching is another red flag for hypokalemia.

  • Weakness or Tightness: If your muscles feel weak or tight for no reason, it might be due to low potassium levels.

How Low Potassium Affects Your Health

Low potassium can cause more than just muscle issues. Other symptoms like fatigue, constipation, and irregular heartbeat could also indicate potassium deficiency.

Don't ignore these warning signs because untreated hypokalemia can lead to severe cardiac problems like arrhythmias - abnormal heart rhythms that increase the risk of stroke and heart failure.

If you notice any of these symptoms persistently occurring without an apparent cause, consider consulting with your healthcare provider, who may recommend further tests like a potassium blood test.

Early detection is critical when dealing with nutritional deficiencies.

Why Diabetics on Diuretics Need Adequate Potassium Intake

Diuretics can deplete potassium levels, so ensuring you get enough through diet or supplements is crucial. Diabetics especially should ensure they are getting enough potassium via diet or supplements.

Get Your Potassium from These Foods

  1. Avocado: Avocado is rich in potassium and low in carbohydrates, making it an excellent choice to prevent potassium deficiency.

  2. Salmon: Wild-caught salmon is a fatty fish high in potassium and provides healthy fats, helping to normalize potassium levels.

  3. Mushrooms: Mushrooms are low in carbohydrates and contain a good amount of potassium, serving as a versatile option to prevent potassium deficiency.

  4. Broccoli: Broccoli is a low-carb vegetable high in potassium, easily incorporated into meals to prevent potassium deficiency.

  5. Pork: Pork is a protein-rich food containing potassium, making it a good option to prevent deficiencies.

  6. Nuts: Certain nuts like almonds and macadamia nuts are low in carbs and contain potassium, offering a convenient snack to increase potassium intake.

  7. Dark leafy greens: Vegetables like kale and collard greens are low in carbs and high in potassium, making them ideal for maintaining adequate potassium levels.

Supplements Can Help, But Be Careful

If you're not getting enough potassium from your diet, supplements can help. Be cautious with supplementation, as excessive amounts of potassium can result in hyperkalemia.

Most over-the-counter pills only contain 99 milligrams of potassium, so make sure you're still eating potassium-rich foods.

Intermittent Fasting? Don't Forget Your Potassium

If you're practicing intermittent fasting, ensure you still get enough potassium during your eating window. Nutrient-rich meals are essential.

Remember to always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have existing medical conditions or are currently taking medication.

Get Your Potassium Fix: Understanding Nutrient Requirements

Potassium is often overlooked but crucial for nerve transmission and muscle contraction. The recommended daily intake for an average adult is 4,700 milligrams per day.

Why Supplementation Alone Isn't Enough

Many individuals today turn to dietary supplements to fulfill their nutritional requirements. But most over-the-counter potassium pills only offer around 99 milligrams per serving.

That's not even close to the required daily amount. So, dietary intake becomes even more critical. Understand us, and supplements can be beneficial. However, relying solely on them can lead to deficiencies over time.

Try increasing intake of the potassium-rich foods discussed earlier to ensure you are getting enough of the valuable nutrient.

Vitamin K deficiency, Doctor writing on transparent screen

Incorporating High-Potassium Foods Into Your Diet

Incorporating potassium-rich foods into your diet is essential, especially if you're on diuretic medications like thiazide.

Eating foods like avocados, almonds, broccoli, wild-caught salmon and more can help you maintain proper levels of potassium.

Creating Balanced Meals Incorporating Vegetables Rich in Essential Nutrients

Get your daily dose of potassium by adding veggies like beet tops and broccoli to your meals.

Mix up your meals by incorporating various sources of potassium, such as cooked or raw vegetables and nuts.

Precautions While Consuming Certain High-Potassium Foods

Beet tops are a great source of potassium, but they also contain oxalates, which may increase the risk of kidney stones. If you're prone to developing kidney stones, be cautious when consuming beet tops regularly.

Remember, moderation is essential for any nutrient, including potassium. If advised by healthcare professionals, supplementation might be considered, but over-the-counter supplements usually only offer around 99 milligrams per serving, making dietary intake essential.

Excessive supplement use without proper guidance could lead to potential risks such as hyperkalemia, which brings its own set of complications. Always consult professional advice before starting any new regimen.


Thiazide diuretics for hypertension can lead to potassium deficiency, causing cardiovascular issues. So if you are taking any thiazide diuretics, make sure you are eating a high-potassium diet.

Once on thiazide diuretics, you must maintain potassium levels through both diet and supplements.

Knowing thiazide diuretics' role and side effects can help you stay healthy while on medication. Get your daily nutrients from food, not just supplements, to avoid adverse effects from medication.


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