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Hyperaldosteronism is a condition that occurs when your adrenals—two small glands located on top of each kidney—produce too much of the hormone aldosterone. Aldosterone helps balance the levels of sodium (salt) and potassium in your body. Having too much aldosterone causes the body to hold on to sodium, resulting in water build-up and a rise in blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can put you at risk for stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or kidney failure.

When the increase of aldosterone is caused by a problem in your adrenals, the condition is called primary aldosteronism (PA). (When the problem originates outside the adrenals, the condition is called secondary aldosteronism.) The main causes of PA are:

• Overactivity of both adrenal glands (called bilateral idiopathic hyperplasia), which occurs in about two-thirds of cases
• A noncancerous growth in the adrenal (adenoma; also called Conn’s syndrome), which occurs in about one-third of cases
• A genetic disorder (familial hyperaldosteronism), which is rare • A cancerous tumor of the adrenal gland (adrenocortical carcinoma), which is very rare

Primary aldosteronism (PA) was once thought to be a rare condition. Now, experts say as many as one in ten patients with high blood pressure may have PA. The risk of heart disease and stroke may be even greater in patients with PA than in other patients with high blood pressure.

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The Hormone Foundation

Dr. Lysette Iglesias M.D.

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