ISLAMABAD: Drugs used to treat high blood pressure and other conditions can cause a dangerous build-up of potassium and patients taking them need to be watched closely, U.S. researchers cautioned on Wednesday.
The drugs, angiotensin-converting-enzyme or ACE inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers, can raise potassium levels in about 10 percent of patients, especially those with weak kidneys, said Dr. Biff Palmer of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
“Because a third to half of patients with congestive heart failure have kidney complications, a large proportion of patients being treated with ACE inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers are at increased risk for hyperkalemia (high potassium),” Palmer said in a statement.
Potassium is normally excreted by the kidneys, with levels in the blood affecting the way cell membranes work, and governs the action of the heart and pathways between the brain and muscles. High potassium levels can disrupt the heart’s normal rhythm, Palmer wrote in a commentary for this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.
Doctors need to take note, Palmer advised.
“The patient’s medication profile should be reviewed and drugs discontinued that impair excretion of potassium in the kidney, such as over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen,” he said.
“Patients should be asked about the use of herbal remedies, as herbs can be a hidden source of potassium.”
Patients at risk should avoid foods high in potassium such as orange juice, melons, bananas and salt substitutes.
Dairy intake tied to lower body fat in girls: Girls who get enough dairy products in their diets may stay leaner than their peers, study findings suggest.
Researchers found that among 323 9- to 14-year-old girls in Hawaii, those who got more calcium from dairy sources tended to weigh less and have less fat around the middle than girls who ate less dairy. On the other hand, body weight tended to rise in tandem with soda intake.
The link between dairy intake and lower abdominal fat was particularly strong among girls of Asian descent, who made up 47 percent of the study group.
Since the 1960s, U.S. children’s milk consumption has fallen off significantly, in favor of soda and sugary juices. The trend is thought to be one of the factors fueling the nation’s ever-growing rate of childhood obesity and excess weight. A number of studies, mostly in adults, have shown that calcium may be key in maintaining normal body weight and fat stores. One reason may be the nutrient’s effects on hormones that help store calories as fat.
In the new study, reported in the Journal of Nutrition, calcium from dairy sources, but not non-dairy foods, was related to lower weight and less abdominal fat.
This suggests that “the dairy portion of the calcium intake is the key factor,” write the study authors, led by Dr. Rachel Novotny of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. It’s possible, they explain, that other nutrients in milk play an important role in weight balance. However, the researchers add, girls in the study got relatively little of their calcium from non-dairy sources — perhaps too little for these foods to show an effect on weight and body fat.
Non-dairy sources of calcium include certain green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, fortified soy milk, and calcium added to orange juice and cereals.
For the study, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, girls and their parents kept a record of the foods the children ate over three days. The researchers found that the average calcium intake fell far short of the recommended level for children in this age group — 736 milligrams (mg) per day, versus the recommended 1,300 mg a day.
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