Resistant hypertension is a common clinical problem and greatly increases the risk of target organ damage.
We evaluated the characteristics of 279 consecutive patients with resistant hypertension (uncontrolled despite the use of 3 antihypertensive agents) and 53 control subjects (with normotension or hypertension controlled by using ≤2 antihypertensive medications). Participants were prospectively examined for plasma aldosterone concentration, plasma renin activity, aldosterone to renin ratio, brain-type natriuretic peptide, atrial natriuretic peptide, and 24-hour urinary aldosterone (UAldo), cortisol, sodium, and potassium values while adhering to a routine diet.
Plasma aldosterone (P < .001), aldosterone to renin ratio (P < .001), 24-hour UAldo (P = .02), brain-type natriuretic peptide (P = .007), and atrial natriuretic peptide (P = .001) values were higher and plasma renin activity (P = .02) and serum potassium (P < .001) values were lower in patients with resistant hypertension vs controls. Of patients with resistant hypertension, men had significantly higher plasma aldosterone (P = .003), aldosterone to renin ratio (P = .02), 24-hour UAldo (P < .001), and urinary cortisol (P < .001) values than women. In univariate linear regression analysis, body mass index (P = .01), serum potassium (P < .001), urinary cortisol (P < .001), urinary sodium (P = .02), and urinary potassium (P < .001) values were correlated with 24-hour UAldo levels. Serum potassium (P = .001), urinary potassium (P < .001), and urinary sodium (P = .03) levels were predictors of 24-hour UAldo levels in multivariate modeling.
Aldosterone levels are higher and there is evidence of intravascular volume expansion (higher brain-type and atrial natriuretic peptide levels) in patients with resistant hypertension vs controls. These differences are most pronounced in men. A significant correlation between 24-hour urinary aldosterone levels and cortisol excretion suggests that a common stimulus, such as corticotropin, may underlie the aldosterone excess in patients with resistant hypertension.