Screening for primary aldosteronism without discontinuing hypertensive medications: plasma aldosterone-renin ratio

Am J Kidney Dis. 2001 Apr;37(4):699-705. doi: 10.1016/s0272-6386(01)80117-7.


The traditional workup for primary aldosteronism is cumbersome and requires discontinuing antihypertensive medications, which is inconvenient and potentially dangerous. A simple and accurate screening test that can be used without modifying medications is needed. The plasma aldosterone-renin ratio (ARR) is a valid screening assay for primary aldosteronism, but antihypertensives are usually discontinued before obtaining this ratio, limiting its utility. The present prospective study is designed to examine the validity of the ARR as a screening test for primary aldosteronism if the ratio is measured randomly while patients continue antihypertensive therapy. During the 18-month study period, 90 patients were referred to the hypertension clinic with poorly controlled hypertension. ARR was measured in random blood samples in all 90 patients while maintaining their prescribed antihypertensive medications. Those with elevated ARRs (>100 ng/dL / ng/mL/h) underwent further diagnostic workup, including adrenal computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging and adrenal iodine 131 norcholesterol uptake scan. Fifteen patients (17%) had elevated ARRs greater than 100:1. Ten of 15 patients were found to have adrenal adenoma on diagnostic workup, and adenoma was later confirmed by histological examination after surgical removal in these 10 patients. Five patients were found to have adrenal hyperplasia; all 5 patients responded to antialdosterone treatment. Thus, all 15 patients had good control of blood pressure after surgery and/or antialdosterone medications. No patient showed a falsely elevated ARR. Data suggest that the ARR is a valid screening assay for primary aldosteronism in patients with poorly controlled blood pressure, and discontinuation of antihypertensive medications is not needed for this test.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / complications
  • Adenoma / diagnosis
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / complications
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Adult
  • Aldosterone / blood*
  • Antihypertensive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperaldosteronism / blood
  • Hyperaldosteronism / complications
  • Hyperaldosteronism / diagnosis*
  • Hypertension / blood
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Renin / blood*


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Aldosterone
  • Renin