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Aldosterone in Blood

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An overgrowth of normal cells in the adrenal glands (called adrenal hyperplasia) or a tumor of the adrenal glands affects the adrenal glands directly and causes a condition called primary aldosteronism. Certain diseases such as heart failure, cirrhosis, or kidney disease can also cause high aldosterone levels, but this is a normal response by the adrenal glands. These diseases cause secondary aldosteronism.

Aldosterone and renin levels
  Aldosterone Renin
Primary hyperaldosteronism (Conn's syndrome)

High

Low

Secondary hyperaldosteronism

High

High

High values

High aldosterone levels can be caused by:

Symptoms of a high aldosterone level include high blood pressure, muscle cramps and weakness, numbness or tingling in the hands, and low levels of potassium in the blood.

Low values

Addison's disease and some types of kidney disease may cause low aldosterone levels.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Eating large amounts of natural black licorice.
  • Pregnancy. Aldosterone levels may be high in the third trimester of pregnancy.
  • Taking medicines, such as female hormones (progesterone and estrogen), corticosteroids, heparin, opiates, laxatives, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or diuretics. Most medicines used to treat high blood pressure, especially spironolactone (Aldactone), eplerenone (Inspra), and beta-blockers, increase blood levels of aldosterone and renin.
  • Exercising hard or being under emotional stress.
  • Your age. Aldosterone levels normally decrease with age.

What To Think About

  • The kidney hormone renin normally controls how much aldosterone is released by the adrenal glands. Usually a renin activity test is done when the aldosterone level is measured. For more information, see the topic Renin.
  • A 24-hour urine test may be done instead if your doctor does not want changes in your position or the time of day to change test results. For more information, see the topic Aldosterone in Urine.
  • If you may have overactive adrenal glands or an abnormal adrenal growth, potassium levels may also be tested. For more information, see the topic Potassium (K) in Blood.

Citations

  1. Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology
Last Revised June 20, 2012
1 | 2 | 3

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 20, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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