Primary aldosteronism has two main clinically and biologically distinct subtypes: unilateral aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA) and bilateral adrenal hyperplasia (BAH). We aimed to evaluate the changes of each subtype's clinical characteristics over a 13-year period.
This retrospective study involved time-trend analyses to identify changes in the clinical features of APA and BAH at diagnosis (2006–2018). A nationwide database from 41 Japanese referral centers was searched, which identified 2804 primary aldosteronism patients with complete baseline information and adrenal venous sampling (AVS) data.
The proportion of patients with APA decreased from 51% in 2006–2009 to 22% in 2016–2018. Among the 1634 patients with BAH, trend analyses revealed decreases in hypertension duration (median 7--3 years; P < 0.01) and hypokalemia prevalence (18--11%; P < 0.01). However, among the 952 patients with APA, there were no significant changes in hypertension duration (median 8 years) and hypokalemia prevalence (overall 70%). Furthermore, the APA group had a trend towards increased use of multiple hypertensive drugs at diagnosis (30--43%; P < 0.01). When subtypes were reclassified according to the precosyntropin stimulation AVS data, APA patients tended to be diagnosed earlier and at milder forms, consistent with the trend in overall primary aldosteronism patients.
During 2006–2018, we identified marked subtype-specific trends in the clinical findings at the diagnosis of primary aldosteronism. Our results suggested that the emphasis on the implementing cosyntropin stimulation during AVS might lead to under-identification of APA, especially in patients with mild or early cases.