Primary aldosteronism is a type of hormonal disorder that leads to high blood pressure. The cause for this condition is due to high levels of aldosterone from the adrenal glands. Aldosterone is a hormone that balances sodium and potassium in the blood.
During primary aldosteronism, the adrenal glands produce too much aldosterone, causing the loss of potassium and retaining of sodium within the body. In turn, the excess levels of sodium in the body hold onto water which in turn increases high blood volume and blood pressure levels.
Treatment options for primary aldosteronism involve treating high blood pressure with certain medications, lifestyle changes or surgery. It is vital for individuals with primary aldosteronism to seek treatment in order to prevent the increased risk of developing a heart disease or stroke.
The main signs of primary aldosteronism are:
- Changes in blood pressure levels from moderate to severe
- Resistant hypertension: High blood pressure that is difficult to control despite the use of a diuretic and at least two other blood pressure medicines
- Hypokalemia: Lack of potassium in the bloodstream
There are several conditions that are likely to cause the overproduction of aldosterone. These conditions include:
- Conn’s syndrome: A condition that involves a benign tumor of the adrenal gland. It is most common in individuals 30 to 50 years old.
- Idiopathic hyperaldosteronism: A condition that involves the over use of both adrenal glands
In rare cases, primary aldosteronism may be caused by:
- Adrenal cortical cancer: A cancerous growth on the outer layer of the adrenal glands.
- Glucocorticoid-remediable aldosteronism: A rare type of primary aldosteronism that runs in families and causes high blood pressure in children and young adults.
Several complications that can arise from primary aldosteronism include the following:
- Severe high blood pressure
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Muscle cramps
- Excess thirst or urination
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Kidney disease
- Kidney failure
- Left ventricular hypertrophy (enlargement of the muscle that makes up the wall of the left ventricle)
- Premature death
Primary aldosteronism can cause several complications; all linked with high blood pressure levels or low potassium levels. This is due to high aldosterone levels in the body, which can cause heart and blood vessel damage separate from complications related to high blood pressure.
Treatment options for primary aldosteronism depend on the underlying cause of the condition and the individual’s overall health. The main goal is to normalize aldosterone levels and prevent further complications associated with high blood pressure and low potassium levels.
Treatment options can include the following:
- Surgery: Surgical removal of the adrenal gland can help resolve symptoms and normalize aldosterone levels.
- Aldosterone-blocking drugs: The use of aldosterone-blocking drugs can help to treat benign tumors associated with primary aldosteronism.
- Mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists: The use of certain medications can help block the action of aldosterone in the body.
- Diuretics: The use of water pills (diuretics) can help manage fluid buildup in the body.
- Lifestyle changes: Making certain lifestyle changes can help normalize blood pressure and low potassium levels. These changes may include: maintaining a healthy body weight, reducing the intake of sodium, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption and quitting smoking.