The risks and benefits of aldosterone antagonists

Curr Heart Fail Rep. 2005 Aug;2(2):65-71. doi: 10.1007/s11897-005-0011-5.


Spironolactone and eplerenone are mineralocorticoid- blocking agents used for their ability to block a host of epithelial and nonepithelial actions of aldosterone. These compounds are of proven benefit in reducing blood pressure and urine protein excretion, and in conferring cardiovascular gain in diverse circumstances of heart failure. However, as enthusiasm grows for use of mineralocorticoid-blocking agents, the risks inherent to use of such drugs become more pertinent. Whereas the endocrine side effects of spironolactone are in reality little more than a cosmetic disfigurement, the potassium-sparing properties of spironolactone and eplerenone can prove life-threatening if hyperkalemia develops. However, for most patients the risk of developing hyperkalemia should not dissuade the prudent clinician from use of these compounds. Hyperkalemia should be considered as a possibility in any patient receiving these medications and as such is best addressed preemptively.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Eplerenone
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hyperkalemia / chemically induced
  • Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Spironolactone / adverse effects
  • Spironolactone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Spironolactone / therapeutic use*


  • Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists
  • Spironolactone
  • Eplerenone