Time to revisit high blood pressure and primary aldosteronism

If you or someone you love is taking tablets for high blood pressure, now would be a good time to learn more about primary aldosteronism, a condition that has recently been declared: "the most common specifically treatable and potentially curable form of hypertension" (BMJ, 2021). 

Indeed, if you were to ask your doctor about primary aldosteronism tomorrow, you might be told that it's rare, but that is not true. Recent advances in medical science have confirmed that PA is the most common cause of high blood pressure. If you are academically-inclined, here is one of the landmark studies of PA prevalence: The Unrecognized Prevalence of Primary Aldosteronism: A Cross-sectional Study.

Primary aldosteronism—also known as Conn's syndrome, not Cobb's syndrome—is a condition in which your adrenal glands produce too much aldosterone and this causes your body to retain sodium and lose potassium. Here are some clues that you might have PA:
  • your blood pressure is high despite taking BP medication
  • your sodium level is on the high side despite cutting back on salt in your diet
  • your potassium level is on the low side despite taking prescription potassium supplements and eating lots of bananas
As I learned from my experience as a heart patient, untreated primary aldosteronism leads to elevated blood pressure and can increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, and atrial fibrillation. I spent several decades being treated for high blood pressure by doctors who kept telling me to eat more bananas and less salt, even as excess aldosterone was damaging my heart. (Hint: you will never eat enough bananas to defeat PA.)

These days, there is a whole lot of information on this widely undiagnosed condition at the Primary Aldosteronism Foundation website.You can read about my experience with PA, which eventually led to my high blood pressure being cured through adrenal gland surgery, on my Primary Aldosteronism page, and in my previous blog posts about my adrenalectomy:

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