Underdiagnosis of Primary Aldosteronism: A Review of Screening and Detection

Am J Kidney Dis. 2023 Mar 23;S0272-6386(23)00579-6. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2023.01.447. Online ahead of print.


A clinical condition may be missed due to its higher-than-recognized prevalence or inadequate diagnostic screening. Both factors apply to primary aldosteronism, which is woefully underdiagnosed as a cause of hypertension and end-organ damage. Screening tests should be strongly considered for diseases that pose significant morbidity or mortality if left untreated, that have a high prevalence, and that have treatments that lead to improvement or cure. In this review we present the evidence for each of these points. We outline studies that estimate the prevalence of primary aldosteronism in different at-risk populations and how its recognition has changed over time. We also evaluate myriad studies of screening rates for primary aldosteronism and what factors do and do not influence current screening practices. We discuss the ideal conditions for screening, measuring the aldosterone to renin ratio in different populations that use plasma renin activity or direct renin concentration, and the steps for diagnostic workup of primary aldosteronism. Finally, we conclude with potential strategies to implement higher rates of screening and diagnosis of this common, consequential, and treatable disease.

Keywords: Hypertension; primary aldosteronism.

Publication types

  • Review