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Shirpenbach, Caroline; Reincke, Martin (2007): Primary aldosteronism: current knowledge and controversies in Conn’s syndrome. In: Nature Clinical Practice Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol. 3, No. 3: pp. 220-227
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Primary aldosteronism has been recognized as a common cause of secondary hypertension, accounting for approximately 10% of the hypertensive population. Screening should be applied in hypertensive patients presenting with one of the following: hypokalemia, refractory hypertension, suggestive family history, or an incidentally detected adrenal mass. The most advocated screening test at present is the aldosterone-to-renin ratio, which has a high sensitivity but low specificity. The specificity increases if patients with low aldosterone concentrations are excluded. Published cut-off values vary depending on the hormone assay and the investigated population. Before screening, antihypertensive treatment, especially aldosterone antagonists and beta-blockers, should be discontinued. A pathologic result requires additional work up to prove mineralocorticoid excess. Subtype differentiation is performed by adrenal venous sampling combined with imaging (CT or MRI). One-third of cases are due to aldosterone-producing adenomas, for which the preferred treatment is laparoscopic adrenalectomy. Bilateral adrenal hyperplasia (idiopathic aldosteronism) underlies two-thirds of cases and requires treatment with aldosterone antagonists. Treatment is started with low doses of spironolactone (25-50 mg once daily), which often results in substantial improvements in hypertension.