Prevalence of primary aldosteronism among Asian hypertensive patients in Singapore

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Aug;85(8):2854-9. doi: 10.1210/jcem.85.8.6752.


Recent studies using the ratio of plasma aldosterone concentration (PAC) to PRA as the screening test for primary aldosteronism in hypertensive populations suggested that the prevalence may be as high as 5-15%, with well over half of the subjects having normal serum potassium concentrations. Despite an increasing clinical awareness of this entity, many clinicians are reluctant to consider routine screening for primary aldosteronism in essential hypertensive patients because there are few community-based prevalence studies of primary aldosteronism in different populations. Furthermore, genetic and environmental differences may affect the prevalence and presentation of primary aldosteronism in distinct populations. This study was designed to determine the prevalence of primary aldosteronism in the predominantly Chinese population in Singapore. Three hundred and fifty unselected adult hypertensive patients attending two primary care clinics had random ambulatory measurements for PAC (nanograms per dL) and PRA (nanograms per mL/h). Serum urea, creatinine, and electrolyte measurements were obtained simultaneously. Subjects with renal insufficiency (serum creatinine, >140 micromol/L) and those treated with glucocorticoids or spironolactone were excluded. Screening was considered positive if the PAC: PRA ratio was more than 20 and the PAC was more than 15 ng/dL (>416 pmol/L). Primary aldosteronism was confirmed with the determination of PAC after 2 L saline administered iv over 4 h. Adrenal computed tomographic (CT) scans were performed in biochemically confirmed cases of primary aldosteronism. Further localization with adrenal vein sampling was carried out in selected patients with equivocal findings on adrenal CT scan. Sixty-three (18%) of the 350 hypertensive patients (215 women and 135 men; age range, 23-75 yr) were screened positive for primary aldosteronism. Only 13 of these 63 subjects (21%) were hypokalemic (serum potassium, <3.5 mmol/L). Confirmatory studies were carried out in 56 (89%) of the subjects with a positive PAC:PRA ratio. Using a PAC above 10 ng/dL (>277 pmol/L) after saline infusion as the diagnostic cut-off, 16 of the 56 patients had biochemically confirmed primary aldosteronism. Hypokalemia was found in 6 of the 16 patients (37.5%) with primary aldosteronism. Subtype evaluation with adrenal CT scan and adrenal vein sampling indicated that half of the patients with primary aldosteronism may have had potentially curable unilateral adrenal adenoma. Our data suggest that primary aldosteronism occurs in at least 5% of the adult Asian hypertensive population, and approximately half of these individuals may have potentially curable, unilateral, aldosterone-producing adrenal adenoma. Our findings also confirm the poor predictive value of hypokalemia in both the diagnosis and the exclusion of primary aldosteronism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aldosterone / blood
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure
  • China / ethnology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperaldosteronism / complications*
  • Hyperaldosteronism / diagnosis
  • Hyperaldosteronism / epidemiology*
  • Hypertension / blood
  • Hypertension / complications*
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • India / ethnology
  • Malaysia / ethnology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Potassium / blood
  • Prevalence
  • Renin / blood
  • Singapore / epidemiology


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Aldosterone
  • Renin
  • Potassium