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Validity of the Aldosterone-Renin Ratio Used to Screen for Primary Aldosteronism

      Objective

      To determine whether the calculated ratio of plasma aldosterone concentration (PAC) to plasma renin activity (PRA), a proposed screening test for primary aldosteronism, provides a renin-independent measure of circulating aldosterone that is suitable to judge whether PAC is inappropriately elevated relative to PRA.

      Subjects and Methods

      This study consisting of 221 black and 276 white subjects with previously diagnosed essential hypertension was conducted between 1996 and 2000. Antihypertensive drugs were withdrawn for at least 4 weeks; PAC and PRA were measured while subjects were supine and then seated after 30 minutes of ambulation. The seated measurements were repeated after 4 weeks of oral diuretic therapy with hydrochlorothiazide (25 mg/d).

      Results

      The variation in the aldosterone-renin ratio was strongly and inversely dependent on PRA (R2=0.71; P<.001). When subjects changed position from supine to seated, the increase in mean ± SD PRA (from 1.18±1.06 to 1.31±1.19 ng·mL−1·h−1; P<.001) was associated with an increase in the mean ratio (from 18.6±52.8 to 25.8±38.1 h·102; P<.001), whereas the increase in mean ± SD PRA in response to diuretic therapy (from 1.31±1.19 to 2.72±2.67 ng·mL−1·h−1; P=.007) was associated with a decrease in the mean ratio (from 25.8±38.1 to 16.4±31.6 h·102; P<.001).

      Conclusion

      In patients with previously diagnosed essential hypertension, calculation of the aldosterone-renin ratio does not provide a renin-independent measure of circulating aldosterone that is suitable for determining whether PAC is elevated relative to PRA. Because elevation of the aldosterone-renin ratio is predominantly an indicator of low PRA, its perceived value in screening for primary aldosteronism most likely derives from additional diagnostic tests being done in patients with low-renin hypertension.

      Abbreviations:

      PAC (plasma aldosterone concentration), PRA (plasma renin)
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