The prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) is increasing and dietary interventions may be a strategy to reduce this burden. In the general population, higher potassium intake is considered protective for cardiovascular health. Due to the risk of hyperkalemia in CKD, limiting potassium intake is often recommended. However, given that poor cardiovascular function can cause kidney damage, following a low-potassium diet may be deleterious for patients with CKD. The aim of this systematic review was to summarize the evidence on dietary potassium intake and CKD progression. Multiple databases were searched on 7 June 2019 and data were managed with Covidence. No intervention trials met the inclusion criteria. Eleven observational studies met the inclusion criteria (10 post hoc analyses, 1 retrospective cohort), representing 49,573 stage 1-5 predialysis patients with CKD from 41 different countries. Of the 11 studies, 6 studies reported exclusively on early CKD (stage 1-2), 4 studies separately reported analyses on both early and late (stage 3-5) CKD, and 2 studies reported exclusively on late CKD. A total of 9 studies reported risk of disease progression in early CKD; in 4 studies high potassium intake was associated with lower risk, while in 2 studies the low intake showed a higher progression of risk, and 3 studies reported no relation. In late CKD, results are mixed: 2 studies suggested benefit of higher potassium intake and 1 suggested benefit of lower potassium intake, whereas 3 studies were neutral. These results should be interpreted with caution, as considerations preventing firm conclusions include 1) the overall low range of dietary potassium intake, with all studies reporting an average intake below the 2004 Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiatives guidelines, and 2) the method used to assess potassium intake in most studies (i.e., urine) in late stages of CKD. Ideally, well-controlled intervention studies are needed to understand how dietary potassium intake is linked to CKD progression.
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