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SUMMARY: Twenty-eight patients with resistant hypertension were found to have primary aldosteronism; 25 had solitary adenoma and 3 had adrenal hyperplasia. All were severely hypertensive despite receiving three or more antihypertensive agents, including conventional doses of diuretics, sympatholytics, and vasodilators. Hypervolemia (24 patients) or normovolemia (2 patients) despite severe diastolic hypertension was the hallmark in 26 patients. Adequate salt and water depletion alone with spironolactone (200 mg/day) and hydrochlorothiazide (50-100 ng/day) reduced arterial pressure in all. Twenty-two patients had surgical removal of a solitary adenoma. Over 1 to 2 years of follow-up, 13 were normotensive without medication, and six required hydrochlorothiazide and three hydrochlorothiazide plus a [beta]-blocker to normalize blood pressure. Blood pressure response to surgery had no relation to either duration or severity of hypertension. Six patients (three with hyperplasia, three with adenoma) have continued diuretic therapy and are normokalemic and normotensive. These results indicate that primary aldosteronism can be associated with severe and drug-resistant hypertension, that maintained hypervolemia is the reason for resistance to therapy, that sustained volume depletion is the most important therapeutic goal for these patients, and that cure can be achieved despite prolonged and severe hypertension.

(C) 1988 American Heart Association, Inc.