Primary Aldosteronism can lead to heart disease. Primary aldosteronism, (also known as hyperaldosteronism) is a condition that occurs when the adrenal glands produce too much aldosterone, which is the hormone responsible for balancing sodium and potassium in the body. Excess aldosterone causes the body to retain sodium and lose potassium, which leads to high blood pressure. People with primary aldosteronism are at higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
Aldosteronism Can Lead to Heart Disease Symptoms
Many cases of primary aldosteronism are caused by a benign tumor in one or both of the adrenal glands, or over activity of both adrenal glands commonly known as bilateral adrenal hyperplasia. In rare cases, hyperaldosteronism is caused by cancerous tumors in the outer layer of the adrenal glands, or by a genetic condition known as glucocorticoid-remediable aldosteronism. Primary aldosteronism is typically found in those between the ages of 30-50.
- Moderate to severe high blood pressure
- Resistance to drug treatments
- Low potassium levels
- Muscle weakness
- Periodic temporary paralysis
First, a blood test will be ordered to determine a patient’s aldosterone and renin level. these are enzymes that are released by the kidneys to help regulate blood pressure. Other tests may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis if copious amounts of aldosterone and minimal amounts of renin are found, because this is an indication of primary aldosteronism.
These tests include salt loading, which includes consuming high levels of sodium followed by a blood and urine tests, which determines how the body is handling salt and how it responds with aldosterone creation. Other tests include a Computed Tomography (CT) or Adrenal Vein Sampling (AVS), which involves the use of a catheter to take blood samples from both adrenal glands to measure aldosterone production.
Primary aldosteronism, caused by a benign tumor on the adrenal gland, is treated surgically or with medication.
Medication: If hyperaldosteronism is caused by over active adrenal glands, medication can help to manage the condition. These medications include mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist, which block effects of aldosterone on the body, lower blood pressure, and increase potassium levels. These medications do not cure the condition; however, if taken regularly they will manage the symptoms.
Surgery: If surgery is the best option, then an adrenalectomy will be performed by removing the tumor and adrenal gland that it is attached to. If surgery is not an option, aldosterone-blocking medication will be used to manage the condition.