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Secondary Aldosteronism

By Ashley B. Grossman, MD, FRCP, FMedSci

Secondary aldosteronism is increased adrenal production of aldosterone in response to nonpituitary, extra-adrenal stimuli, including renal artery stenosis and hypovolemia. Symptoms are those of primary aldosteronism. Treatment involves correcting the cause.

Secondary aldosteronism is caused by reduced renal blood flow, which stimulates the renin-angiotensin mechanism with resultant hypersecretion of aldosterone. Causes of reduced renal blood flow include obstructive renal artery disease (eg, atheroma, stenosis), renal vasoconstriction (as occurs in accelerated hypertension), and edematous disorders (eg, heart failure, cirrhosis with ascites, nephrotic syndrome). Secretion may be normal in heart failure, but hepatic blood flow and aldosterone metabolism are reduced, so circulating levels of the hormone are high.

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