Not So Rare: Curable Forms of Hypertension

A rare disease that is not so rare: Hormonal causes of high blood pressure have been considered rare but “can be as high as 50% among children and 30% among young adults.”

The Endocrine Society issued a Scientific Statement regarding high blood pressure and a not-so-rare hormonal cause: aldosteronism. Primary (originating in the adrenal glands) or secondary (originating outside the glands) aldosteronism, may be an important cause of high blood pressure, perhaps as common as one in ten individuals.

The adrenal glands are small glands at the top of each kidney and they may be the origin of the most common cause of hormone related high blood pressure. The hypertension may be caused by:

  • over activity of the adrenal glands
  • a non- cancerous growth on one of the adrenal glands
  • an inherited disorder
  • (very rarely) a cancer of an adrenal gland

If you have any of the following:

  • high blood pressure which started at a young age
  • a family history of stroke
  • low potassium level…

This is something to think about, and talk to your doctor about. Blood tests and a CT scan can confirm or rule out the adrenal glands as being a cause of your high blood pressure.

Dr. William F. Young, of the Mayo Clinic, and chair of the Scientific Task force, is quoted, “Healthcare providers should consider primary aldosteronism screening for most people who have hypertension. The condition can be easily treated and often cured when it is diagnosed. Early detection also reverses the elevated risk of cardiovascular events and kidney failure in this population.”

The newly issued Clinical Practice Guideline helps identify, “when to suspect a hormone disorder and how to test for it.” Tests include measuring aldosterone and renin (a protein produced by the kidneys), CT scans and measurement of blood levels of aldosterone at the glands by an interventional radiologist.

More information can be found here.

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