High blood pressure is the main, and often only sign, of Conn’s disease.
Conn’s syndrome is a disease of the adrenal glands involving excess production of the aldosterone hormone. The condition, also known as primary hyperaldosteronism, might be a curable cause of hypertension.
According to WebMD, Conn Syndrome is characterized by an increased level of the aldosterone hormone in the blood, which increases blood sodium levels in turn. It can also raise blood volume and cause potassium levels to drop. The disorder is characterized by hypertension, periods of weakness, unusual sensations such as tingling and warmness, a transient paralysis, muscle cramps, excessive urination and extreme thirst. However, high blood pressure remains the main, and often only, symptom.
While the reason is not yet known, Conn’s usually occurs because of a benign tumor in one adrenal (adenoma) gland or an enlargement of both (bilateral hyperplasia). According to online medical information resource, NetDoctor, some suggest that Conn’s is rare (one new case in a million people each year). However, when detailed investigations have been performed in hypertensive patients, “up to 15 percent may have the disease.” Conn’s should be suspected in all patients with high blood pressure, they say.
Diagnosis is done by measuring aldosterone and renin levels. In Conn’s, there is elevated aldosterone levels and very low renin levels. The adrenal glands are also scanned. Blood can be directly taken from adrenals via a catheter inserted in adrenal veins. Medications like Spironolactone, eplerenone are usually prescribed and surgical removal might be recommended in case of adenoma — while these tumors are benign, they can become malignant with time.
Treatment of Conn’s syndrome is usually successful. Many patients with a single adrenal adenoma will be able to stop drug treatment and will have normal blood pressures. Nevertheless, many specialist will follow a patient with Conn’s for life to monitor the rare possibility of an adenoma reoccurring. Patients with bilateral hyperplasia must have life-long monitoring of effectiveness and side-effects of drug treatment.