Minireview: primary aldosteronism--changing concepts in diagnosis and treatment

Endocrinology. 2003 Jun;144(6):2208-13. doi: 10.1210/en.2003-0279.


Primary aldosteronism affects 5-13% of patients with hypertension. Patients with hypertension and hypokalemia and most patients with treatment-resistant hypertension should undergo screening for primary aldosteronism with a plasma aldosterone concentration to plasma renin activity ratio. A high plasma aldosterone concentration to plasma renin activity ratio is a positive screening test result, a finding that warrants confirmatory testing. For those patients that want to pursue a surgical cure, the accurate distinction between the subtypes (unilateral vs. bilateral adrenal disease) of primary aldosteronism is a critical step. The subtype evaluation may require one or more tests, the first of which is imaging the adrenal glands with computed tomography, followed by selective use of adrenal venous sampling. Because of the deleterious cardiovascular effects of aldosterone, normalization of circulating aldosterone or aldosterone receptor blockade should be part of the management plan for all patients with primary aldosteronism. Unilateral laparoscopic adrenalectomy is an excellent treatment option for patients with unilateral aldosterone-producing adenoma. Bilateral idiopathic hyperaldosteronism should be treated medically. In addition, aldosterone-producing adenoma patients may be treated medically if the medical treatment includes mineralocorticoid receptor blockade.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hyperaldosteronism / complications
  • Hyperaldosteronism / diagnosis*
  • Hyperaldosteronism / therapy*
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Hypertension / therapy
  • Hypokalemia / diagnosis
  • Hypokalemia / etiology
  • Hypokalemia / therapy