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Conn Syndrome (aka Conn's Syndrome) Print E-mail

Dr. Kennedy Connís syndrome (primary hyperaldosteronism or simply aldosteronism), is the most common identifiable cause of hypertension (high blood pressure) and may also be referred to as aldosteronism. It is characterized by the excess secretion of aldosterone from the cortex Ė the outer layer Ė of the adrenal glands (located on the top of the kidneys). The adrenals are part of the endocrine system, glands that produce and secrete hormones that act on and regulate many systems throughout the body. Aldosterone plays an important role in maintaining blood volume, blood pressure, and electrolyte balance. Its production is normally regulated by renin, an enzyme produced in the kidneys. When renin increases (due to low blood pressure, decreased blood flow to the kidneys or to a sodium deficiency), aldosterone increases. When renin decreases, aldosterone decreases.

In Connís syndrome, excessive amounts of aldosterone are produced by one or more, usually benign, adrenal tumors. These tumors develop by simple overgrowth of tissue (hyperplasia), for unknown reasons (idiopathic), and, rarely, due to a cancerous adrenal tumor. Regardless of the cause, increased aldosterone can most commonly lead to hypokalemia (low blood potassium), increased blood pH (alkalosis), and hypertension. Less frequently, increased aldosterone will lead to polyuria (frequent urination), increased thirst, weakness, temporary paralysis, headaches, muscle cramps, and tingling. Very rarely, increased aldosterone will lead to hypernatremia (increased blood sodium).The presence of hypokalemia in a person with hypertension suggests the need to look for primary hyperaldosteronism. Diagnosing Connís syndrome is important because it represents one of the few causes of hypertension that is potentially curable. Although anyone can get primary hyperaldosteronism, it commonly occurs in adults between the ages of 30 and 50 and is more common in women than men. It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose as patients may have variable symptoms or no symptoms at all. Suspicion of Connís syndrome may be raised in patients who are resistant to standard hypertension therapies.

(Secondary aldosteronism, which is not considered Connís syndrome, can occur as a result of anything that increases renin levels, such as decreased blood flow to the kidneys, low blood pressure, or low sodium levels in the urine. The most important cause is narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the kidney, termed renal artery stenosis. Other causes of secondary hyperaldosteronism include congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, kidney disease, and toxemia of pregnancy.)

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.ÔŅĹTreatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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