Primary Aldosteronism is also called primary hyperaldosteronism and Conn’s syndrome. Previously considered a rare condition, it is now considered a common cause for high blood pressure.
The condition causes the adrenal glands to make too much of a hormone called aldosterone. When the body has the right amount of aldosterone it makes sure there is a proper amount of potassium and sodium in the blood.
When the body has too much aldosterone it holds onto sodium (salt) and water and get rid of potassium. Too much salt and water causes high blood volume which in turn causes high blood pressure. There are many causes of primary aldosteronism, including a bad roll of the genetic dice, poor diet, tumors in the adrenal glands, a complication from another problem with lungs, kidneys or the heart.
Common symptoms can be quite dramatic. They include more headaches than usual; sudden paralysis that comes and goes; numbness that comes and goes; feeling tired all of the time; and weakness in the muscles.
The most common symptoms are moderate or high blood pressure readings and low blood potassium readings. Patients that have high blood pressure for a while so that they need more than one medication also often develop primary aldosteronism.
The longer a patient waits to get medical help, the worse off the high blood pressure becomes. Treating primary aldosteronism and high blood pressure early enough helps reduce symptoms and long-term risks like heart attacks and strokes.
Medications for primary aldosteronism include water pills to flush excess water from the body and drugs to make the body ignore all the extra aldosterone flooding it.
Lifestyle changes to help reduce blood pressure also help reduce primary aldosteronism symptoms. Eating a healthier diet, regular exercise, quitting smoking and reducing or eliminating alcohol helps medications work better.
In bad cases, the adrenal gland may have to be surgically removed.