Potassium is an early marker of type 2 diabetes

Working in partnership with the German Center for Diabetes Research, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München have discovered that low concentrations of potassium occur in the blood of patients with high blood pressure who suffer from type 2 diabetes or an early stage of the disease, but not in the blood of healthy individuals. The results of the research, which was conducted on the basis of data obtained from the KORA Study, will be published in the current edition of the scientific journal Diabetologia.

Low concentrations of potassium occur more frequently in the blood serum of patients suffering from high blood pressure, particularly when they also suffer from type 2 diabetes or a preliminary stage of this widespread disease. The study published in Diabetologia shows for the first time that this association exists irrespective of whether the high blood pressure is being treated with diuretics. In addition, for the first time a link has been established between serum potassium concentrations and prediabetes. The team of scientists led by Dr. Christine Meisinger of the Institute of Epidemiology II at the Helmholtz Zentrum München conducted the study internally with the Institute of Epidemiology I and externally with the team headed by Dr. Wolfgang Rathmann of the German Diabetes Center (DDZ) in Düsseldorf.

“Modifiable risk factors can help us to define risk groups for diabetes,” Dr. Meisinger explains. “Only when we know the risk factors for the occurrence of the disease can we ensure an early diagnosis or take appropriate preventive measures.” The Helmholtz Zentrum München aims to develop new approaches to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the major widespread diseases such as diabetes mellitus. Diabetes affects almost ten per cent of the population of Germany.

Further information
Original publication:
Meisinger C et al.(2012) Serum potassium is associated with prediabetes and newly diagnosed diabetes in hypertensive adults from the general population: The KORA F4-Study, Diabetologia DOI: 10.1007/s00125-012-2786-8