Patient Education - Endocrine Encyclopedia
Endocrine Surgery Encyclopedia
Primary hyperaldosteronism is a syndrome associated with increased secretion of the hormone
aldosterone by the adrenal gland. This increased secretion is caused by an abnormality within
In secondary hyperaldosteronism, the increased production of aldosterone is caused by
something outside the adrenal gland that mimics the primary condition.
Alternative Names: Conn's syndrome
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
Primary hyperaldosteronism used to be considered a rare condition, but some experts believe
that it may be the cause of high blood pressure in 0.5% to 14% of patients. Most cases of
primary hyperaldosteronism result from a benign tumor of the adrenal gland, and occur in
people between the ages of 30 and 50 years old.
The excess aldosterone secreted in this condition increases sodium reabsorption and potassium
loss by the kidneys. The result is an electrolyte imbalance.
Secondary hyperaldosteronism is generally related to hypertension (high blood pressure).
It is also related to disorders such as cardiac failure, cirrhosis of the liver, and nephrotic
(kidney) syndrome. In these disorders, various mechanisms from the individual disease cause
the level of the hormone to be elevated.
- High blood pressure
- Muscle weakness
- Intermittent paralysis
Signs and tests:
- Low serum potassium level
- Abdominal CT scan that shows adrenal mass
- Elevated plasma aldosterone level
- Elevated urinary aldosterone
- Low plasma renin activity
- ECG that shows heart rhythm abnormalities associated with low potassium levels
This disease may also alter the results of the following tests:
- Urine sodium
- Serum sodium
- Urine potassium
- Serum magnesium test
Primary hyperaldosteronism resulting from an adenoma (tumor) is usually treated surgically.
Removal of adrenal tumors may control the symptoms. Even after surgery, some people have
elevated blood pressure and require medication.
Dietary sodium restriction and administration of medication may control the symptoms without
surgery. Medications used to treat hyperaldosteronism are the diuretic ("water pill")
spironolactonea (Aldactone; Aldactazide) or eplerenone (Inspra), which blocks aldosterone
In secondary hyperaldosteronism, there is no surgical intervention, but medications
and diet will be included in the patient's treatment.
The prognosis for primary hyperaldosteronism is good with early diagnosis and treatment.
The prognosis for secondary hyperaldosteronism will vary depending on the cause of the condition.
Impotence and gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men) may be associated with long-term treatment
Calling your health care provider:
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms of hyperaldosteronism
Review Date: 2/27/2006
Reviewed By: Robert Hurd, MD, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, Xavier
University, Cincinnati, OH. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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