Doctors advise checkup for those with hypertension and low potassium levels

Cai Wenjun
Local medical experts said people with hypertension and low potassium levels should have their adrenal glands checked to avoid serious complications.
Cai Wenjun

Local medical experts say people with hypertension and low potassium levels should have their adrenal glands checked to avoid serious complications.

Potassium is an important mineral and functions as an electrolyte, transmitting tiny electrical impulses between nerves. It also helps the heart pump blood properly.

Doctors from Renji Hospital recently treated a patient with a long history of hypertension who began to suffer muscle cramps and weakness, unable to steadily hold things in his hands. They discovered his potassium level was half of what it should have been, and prescribed medication but to no avail.

Doctors later found he suffered from primary aldosteronism, a hormonal disorder that leads to high blood pressure. It occurs when adrenal glands produce too much aldosterone, which balances sodium and potassium in the bloodstream. Too much of this hormone can cause people to lose potassium and retain sodium, an imbalance that causes the body to retain too much water and increase blood pressure.

Treatment includes medication, surgery and lifestyle changes. People with primary aldosteronism have a higher risk of cardiovascular problems compared with those with only high blood pressure.

Doctors conducted a minimally invasive surgery and the patient's potassium level returned to normal the next day.

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