Age effect on plasma renin activity (PRA) and PRA classification was studied in young and older normotensive volunteers. Ambulatory PRA was lower in the older age group than in the younger with both on an unrestricted diet and a low-sodium diet. Renal function, aldosterone excretion, and plasma renin substrate were comparable in both groups.
Age had a substantial effect on PRA classification. When the young normotensives were controls, 32% (6/19) of older normotensives had abnormally low PRA, or "low renin normotension." Similarly, 18% (2/11) of young patients with essential hypertension but 80% (12/15) of older hypertensives had low PRA. When the older volunteers were controls, however, the incidence of low renin hypertension (LRH) decreased to 53% in the older patients. The use of predominately young controls for defining normal limits of PRA may result in an overestimate of the incidence of LRH and may contribute to the heterogeneity of LRH.
(Arch Intern Med 137:1414-1417, 1977)