Primary aldosteronism (PA) was thought to be rare but recent evidence from Australia suggests that it may be more common. As this has important implications in terms of hypertension management, we undertook to screen for this treatable condition in our hypertension clinic. We obtained blood samples in sequential patients referred for assessment in our hypertension clinic in Tayside for plasma renin activity (PRA) and aldosterone. The aldosterone to PRA ratio (ARR) was used as an initial screening test to identify potential patients with PA. Those patients with an elevated ratio (≥750) were admitted for the salt loading and fludrocortisone suppression test. These patients also underwent adrenal CT scanning, and in selected patients, adrenal scintigraphy. Between May 1995 and January 1997 (21 months), we screened a total of 495 patients. ARR was available in 465 (93.9%) patients. Out of that number, 77 (16.6%) had an elevated ratio of ≥750, five of whom had an adrenal adenoma (one had previous adrenalectomy). Forty-five of these patients were admitted for the salt loading and fludrocortisone suppression test with 41 positive test results suggesting PA. One patient with a negative salt loading test result however had an adenoma proven on histology. A total of 43 cases of PA were identified, giving a minimum prevalence of 9.2% (43/465). Potentially the prevalence may be up to 15% assuming that the ARR has a sensitivity of 93% (42/45) in predicting PA. In conclusion, about one in 10 patients attending a hypertension clinic may have PA. This suggests that the prevalence of PA in Tayside is as high as that in the Australian hypertensive population, and this is likely to be true elsewhere, with obvious important implications for hypertension management.
- Aldosterone to renin ratio
- Primary aldosteronism