Confirmatory testing of suspected primary aldosteronism (PA) requires an extensive medication switch that can be difficult for patients with severe complicated hypertension and/or refractory hypokalemia. For this reason, we investigated the effect of chronic antihypertensive medication on confirmatory testing results. To allow the results to be interpreted, the reproducibility of confirmatory testing was also evaluated.
Design and methods
The study enrolled 114 individuals with suspected PA who underwent two confirmatory tests. The patients were divided into two groups. In Group A, both tests were performed on the guidelines-recommended therapy, i.e. not interfering with the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system. In Group B, the first test was performed on chronic therapy with the exclusion of thiazides, loop diuretics, and aldosterone antagonists; and the second test was performed on guidelines-recommended therapy. Saline infusion, preceded by oral sodium loading, was used to suppress aldosterone secretion.
Agreement in the interpretation of the two confirmatory tests was observed in 84 and 66% of patients in Groups A and B respectively. For all 20 individuals in Group A who ever had end-test serum aldosterone levels ≥240 pmol/l, aldosterone was concordantly nonsuppressible during the other test. Similarly, for all 16 individuals in Group B who had end-test serum aldosterone levels ≥240 pmol/l on modified chronic therapy, aldosterone remained nonsuppressible with guidelines-recommended therapy.
Confirmatory testing performed while the patient is on chronic therapy without diuretics and aldosterone antagonists can confirm the diagnosis of PA, provided serum aldosterone remains markedly elevated at the end of saline infusion.