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What Causes Unsafe Aldosterone Levels?

By A. Roe
Updated Feb 15, 2024
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Aldosterone is a hormone that helps regulate electrolytes and helps the body rid itself of potassium. Unsafe aldosterone levels can be caused by certain diseases, such as Conn’s disease and Addison’s disease. They can also be attributed to diet or high blood pressure. In some cases, unsafe aldosterone levels can be related to stress. These levels can be treated with diet modification, medication or, in some cases, surgery.

Conn’s disease is a disease of the adrenal glands that causes high levels of aldosterone. Conn’s disease is also thought to be a main cause of hypertension or high blood pressure. This disease is the most common reason for hyperaldosterone, or high aldosterone levels. Conn’s disease is diagnosed by an endocrinologist through controlled blood tests and scans. Treatment for Conn’s may involve surgery or medication and is typically quite successful.

Addison’s disease is a disease of the adrenal glands that causes low levels of aldosterone. Addison’s disease is defined as a disorder that results in the adrenal glands being unable to produce enough aldosterone. The most common cause of Addison’s disease is an autoimmune issue that destroys the adrenal cortex, meaning the immune system malfunctions and creates antibodies that attack the body. In this case, it attacks the adrenal cortex.

When 90 percent of the adrenal cortex has been destroyed, the adrenal glands either greatly reduce or stop making the hormone aldosterone. Addison’s disease can also be caused by genetic defects, on-going and recurring infections, or AIDS-related infections. Treatment for Addison’s disease is a matter of replacing the hormone or hormones that are missing from the body with medication.

High blood pressure is often blamed for high levels of aldosterone, although it’s becoming more evident that high blood pressure is often caused by high aldosterone levels. The presence of high blood pressure is reason enough to request that renin and blood aldosterone tests be completed. If the ratios of aldosterone to renin are high, it’s probably causing the hypertension. Treating the aldosterone overabundance with either medication or surgery will likely take care of the high blood pressure.

Chronic or continuous stress can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate aldosterone. The resulting lack of balance can be seen in either an unsafe increase or decrease in aldosterone. Successfully managing stress, whether with medication or with a stress-reliever such as meditation, will help correct this imbalance.

Other causes of unsafe aldosterone levels are strenuous exercise and diets either very high or very low in sodium. Unusually strenuous exercise can cause a sodium deficiency that can elevate aldosterone levels for a short period of time. Likewise, a diet lacking sodium can have the same effect, while a diet very high in sodium can create an abnormally low aldosterone level. Replenishing the body with electrolytes and maintaining a diet with moderate sodium levels will correct these abnormalities.

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