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Subclinical atherosclerosis due to increase of plasma aldosterone concentrations in essential hypertensive individuals

Concistrè, Antonio*; Petramala, Luigi*; Bisogni, Valeria; Mezzadri, Martina; Olmati, Federica; Saracino, Vincenza; Oliviero, Gaia; Bonvicini, Maria; Tonnarini, Gianfranco; Iannucci, Gino; Letizia, Claudio

doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000002170
Original Article: PDF Only

Background and aims: The adrenal mineralocorticoid system plays a key role in cardiovascular, metabolic and renal damage. This study aimed to assess the relationship between plasma aldosterone concentration (PAC) and some surrogate markers of subclinical atherosclerosis, such as carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT), ankle-brachial index (ABI) and biochemical parameters in patients with essential hypertension.

Methods and results: From January 2014 to December 2017, we consecutively enrolled 804 essential hypertensive patients (407 men and 397 women, mean age 50 ± 14 years) without cardiovascular complications, distinguishing patients in quartiles according to PAC. Compared with the first quartile, the highest PAC quartile was associated with the highest levels of serum uric acid (SUA) (5.3 ± 1.3 vs. 5.0 ± 1.0 mg/dl; P = 0.01), triglycerides (117.5 ± 15.7 vs. 106.8 ± 10.5 mg/dl; P < 0.05), 24-h urinary albumin excretion (UAE) (38.8 ± vs. 7.6 ± mg/24 h; P < 0.05), cIMT (0.87 ± 0.22 vs. 0.80 ± 0.21 mm; P = 0.001) and increased prevalence of carotid plaques (26 vs. 16%; P < 0.005). Moreover, we found that in patients with PAC more than 150 pg/ml, the ABI was significantly lower than those with PAC < 150 pg/ml (1.01 ± 0.09 vs. 1.10 ± 0.09; P < 0.022). PAC was also found to be an independent predictor of the presence of carotid plaques and pathological ABI (<0.9) in essential hypertensive individuals.

Conclusion: Our results revealed that higher PAC values are strongly associated with some metabolic variables, as triglycerides, UAE, cIMT, worse ABI and major prevalence of carotid plaques that, together with elevated blood pressure values, are strictly correlated with higher risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular complications.

Department of Translational and Precision Medicine, Secondary Hypertension Unit, University of Rome ‘Sapienza’, Rome, Italy

*These authors contributed equally to the study.

Correspondence to Prof. Claudio Letizia, MD, Department of Translational and Precision Medicine, Azienda Universitaria Policlinico ‘Umberto I’, Viale del Policlinico 155, Rome 00155, Italy. E-mail:

Received 21 March, 2019

Revised 7 May, 2019

Accepted 15 May, 2019

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