What is Conn's syndrome?
The adrenal glands are orange-colored endocrine glands that are located on the top of both kidneys. The adrenal glands are triangular shaped and measure about one-half inch in height and three inches in length. Each gland consists of a medulla that is surrounded by the cortex. The medulla is responsible for producing epinephrine also known as adrenaline. The
adrenal cortex produces other hormones necessary for fluid and salt balance in the body such as cortisone and aldosterone. Disorders of either the cortex or the medulla can result in hypertension. Also known as primary hyperaldosteronism, Conn's syndrome is a disease of the adrenal glands involving excess production of a hormone, called aldosterone. Another name for the condition is primary hyperaldosteronism.
Primary hyperaldosteronism accounts for less than one percent of all cases of hypertension. It is more common in females than males (2.5:1 ratio). It can occur at any age, but most commonly when a person is in their 30s and 40s. The majority of cases are sporadic, but one hereditary cause has been identified:?glucocorticoid remediable aldosteronism (GRA). GRA is caused by a rare gene where aldosterone production is controlled by the pituitary gland rather than by the kidney. It can also be caused by adrenal cancers or an enlarged organ due to increased cell production (hyperplasia). Other causes of hyperaldosteronism include any condition that decreases blood flow to the kidney, including dehydration, kidney artery constriction, cardiac failure, shock, liver disease, pregnancy and renin-secreting kidney tumors.
Conn's Syndrome is a condition where the adrenal glands over produce the mineralocorticoid hormone aldosterone. This hormone acts in conjunction with renin and angiotensin to regulate the volume of circulating blood through subtle alterations in the amount of sodium and hence water reabsorption in the kidneys. Aldosterone increases the amount of sodium reabsorbed in the kidney and by osmosis draws water along with it. This action is usually counterbalanced to homeostatically maintain normal blood volume. However, in Conn's Syndrome the cells of the adrenal cortex which secrete aldosterone multiply and secrete independently of their normal regulation. As a consequence, blood volume increases and the person becomes, usually severely, hypertensive.