Hyperaldosteronism refers to the overproduction of aldosterone, a hormone that raises blood pressure and lowers potassium levels. Aldosteronomas (Conn syndrome) — a type of benign adrenal tumor that produces excess aldosterone — is a common cause of hyperaldosteronism. Another common cause of hyperaldosteronism is a condition called bilateral adrenal hyperplasia (BAH), in which both adrenal glands produce too much aldosterone but no tumor is present. Together, aldosteronomas and BAH are thought to occur in up to 13 percent of people with high blood pressure. Our doctors diagnose and treat both conditions.
High blood levels of aldosterone can produce a variety of symptoms, including high blood pressure that is difficult to control, weakness, increased thirst or urination, low blood potassium, and high blood pH.
An endocrinologist, surgeon, or other specialist will review the patient’s medical history, perform a physical examination, and, if appropriate, screen for hyperaldosteronism with hormone tests. If hyperaldosteronism is confirmed, additional imaging and laboratory tests — including taking a sample of the hormones produced separately by each gland — may be required to identify which adrenal gland(s) is producing too much aldosterone.
Patients with a single aldosteronoma may benefit from surgery to remove the tumor, which can reduce blood pressure. Symptoms can be managed with medications to block the effects of aldosterone in the body for patients who do not wish to have surgery or cannot have surgery because they are too sick. Medications are used to treat BAH-related high blood pressure, as surgery is not usually effective in treating this condition.