HyperaldosteronismHyperaldosteronism occurs when the body’s adrenal glands produce too much aldosterone. Aldosterone, one of the hormones produced by the body’s adrenal glands, is partly responsible for keeping the blood’s sodium and potassium levels balanced. Certain disorders can force the adrenal glands to either produce too much aldosterone or not enough of it, which can lead to further complications. Hyperaldosteronism is a condition in which one or both glands produce more aldosterone than the body needs, which leads to lower potassium levels.
Causes of Hyperaldosteronism
There are several known risk factors for and causes of hyperaldosteronism. People suffering from hypertension, particularly when they have trouble managing it, are at greater risk for developing hyperaldosteronism. People with low potassium levels are also at risk.
Known causes of hyperaldosteronism include:
- Tumors on one or both adrenal glands
- Overactive adrenal glands (hyperplasia)
Symptoms of Hyperaldosteronism
When hyperaldosteronism causes the body’s potassium levels to drop, a patient may experience the following symptoms:
- High blood pressure
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent urination
- Muscle spasms
- Tingling sensations
- Temporary paralysis
Hyperaldosteronism can eventually play a role in causing more severe health problems, such as heart failure, stroke, heart attack and kidney failure—all of which could be fatal.
While hyperaldosteronism does affect one’s blood pressure, simply having high blood pressure is not always a sign of hyperaldosteronism. There are many other causes of hypertension that a patient could have. Patients with long-term hypertension, or hypertension that does not respond well to several medications, fall into the category of people who could be affected by hyperaldosteronism.
Blood tests are often used to determine whether a patient could have hyperaldosteronism. Aldosterone and renin levels are checked and, if they’re abnormal, further testing may be ordered. This includes testing blood from the adrenal glands themselves and, if a tumor is the suspected cause of hypoaldosteronism, imaging tests.
When hyperplasia (increased cell growth) is the cause of hyperaldosteronism, it’s usually treated with medication that blocks aldosterone’s effects. These medications are also used in some instances where the cause is a tumor, but surgery to remove the affected adrenal gland is also an option. Tampa General Hospital’s endocrinology team provides world-class treatment and care for patients dealing with hyperaldosteronism and other adrenal disorders.