Impact of Dietary Potassium Restrictions in CKD on Clinical Outcomes: Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

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In patients with advanced-stage chronic kidney disease (CKD), progressive kidney function decline leads to increased risk for hyperkalemia (serum potassium > 5.0 or >5.5 mEq/L). Medications such as renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system inhibitors pose an additional hyperkalemia risk, especially in patients with CKD. When hyperkalemia develops, clinicians often recommend a diet that is lower in potassium content. This review discusses the barriers to adherence to a low-potassium diet and the impact of dietary restrictions on adverse clinical outcomes. Accumulating evidence indicates that a diet that incorporates potassium-rich foods has multiple health benefits, which may also be attributable to the other vitamin, mineral, and fiber content of potassium-rich foods. These benefits include blood pressure reductions and reduced risks for cardiovascular disease and stroke. High-potassium foods may also prevent CKD progression and reduce mortality risk in patients with CKD. Adjunctive treatment with the newer potassium-binding agents, patiromer and sodium zirconium cyclosilicate, may allow for optimal renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system inhibitor therapy in patients with CKD and hyperkalemia, potentially making it possible for patients with CKD and hyperkalemia to liberalize their diet. This may allow them the health benefits of a high-potassium diet without the increased risk for hyperkalemia, although further studies are needed.