Background: Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is a syndrome consisting of headache, visual field defects and papilledema of uncertain etiology. The prospect was raised previously as to an association between aldosteronism and increased intracranial pressure in 2 middle-aged women with IIH and primary aldosteronism (PAL). Since then, 2 additional adults were identified and 2 other cases were reported from the United Kingdom, whereas 6 cases of IIH and secondary aldosteronism (SAL) in children have been reported in the English literature worldwide.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of cases from author institutions and published literature comparing clinical features, laboratory findings and therapeutic interventions in these 12 cases.
Results: The female-to-male ratio was 10:2. The mean age of the PAL patients was 49 ± 3 years—all hypertensive, with adrenal pathology in most. The mean age of the SAL patients was 11 ± 2 years—mostly normotensive, with 3 having Bartter's and 2 Gitelman syndromes, and 1 renal congenital hypoplasia. Plasma aldosterone levels were elevated (31 ± 5 ng/dL) in PAL and SAL, whereas plasma renin activity was suppressed in PAL. Hypokalemia (3.2 ± 0.2 mmol/L), hypomagnesemia (1.6 ± 0.3 mg/dL) and a putative metabolic alkalosis (serum HCO3 30 ± 1 mmol/L) were observed. IIH symptoms were controlled by spironolactone in 5, amiloride in 1, correction of hypokalemia and hypomagnesemia in 2, discontinuation of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in 2, and reduction of body weight in 1. One patient required serial lumbar punctures, 2 a ventriculoperitoneal shunt, whereas all 3 patients with adrenal adenoma underwent surgical resection.
Conclusions: An association between IIH and PAL occurs in hypertensive middle-aged women, whereas normotensive girls having an inherited renal tubular defect may have IIH with SAL. Patients with IIH should be evaluated for aldosteronism and considered for spironolactone therapy.