• Renovascular hypertension is potentially curable but of low prevalence. A previous retrospective study has demonstrated the use of a potentiated increase in plasma renin activity after captopril administration as a diagnostic test for renovascular hypertension; this requires two blood samples for plasma renin activity determination and three inclusive criteria for a positive test result. We applied this test prospectively to screen 100 hypertensive patients for renovascular hypertension. We evaluated 29 patients with renovascular hypertension; the remainder were diagnosed as having essential hypertension. In our patient population, a postcaptopril plasma renin activity of 5.7 ng of angiotensin per milliliter per hour (ngAI·mL−1·h−1) or greater had a 100% sensitivity and an 80% specificity for renovascular hypertension. An absolute increase in plasma renin activity with captopril of 4.7 ngAI·mL−1·h−1 or greater had a lower sensitivity of 90% and a specificity of 87%, whereas a fractional increase in plasma renin activity after captopril of 150% or higher had the lowest sensitivity of 69% and a specificity of 86%. A subgroup analysis of 38 patients who were receiving diuretic therapy demonstrated that the test sensitivity was unchanged but the specificity was reduced. In conclusion, a single postcaptopril plasma renin activity value of 5.7 ngAI·mL−1·h−1 or greater is a simplified screening test for renovascular hypertension, with excellent sensitivity and acceptable specificity. This test is well tolerated, inexpensive, and easy to perform.
(Arch Intern Med. 1990;150:569-572)