The finding of hypokalemia and of low plasma renin activity (PRA) in a hypertensive patient suggests a diagnosis of primary hypermineralocorticoidism. Medications containing compounds with mineralocorticoid-like activity (licorice, carbenexolone) may also cause the same syndrome. Recently, we carried out detailed studies on 10 patients with severe hypertension and hypokalemic alkalosis, suppressed PRA and low aldosterone levels. Plasma levels of cortisol and ACTH were suppressed in most of the cases. Measurement of deoxycorticosterone and corticosterone (and in some patients of 18-hydroxydeoxycorticosterone and 18-hydroxycorticosterone) was not significantly higher than normal. Therapeutic trials of dexamethasone and aminoglutethimide were ineffective. In contrast, spironolactone and amiloride treatment resulted in substantial but incomplete amelioration of both hypertension and hypokalemia. All of the patients share a common history of chronic rhinitis and habitual use of large doses of nasal spray containing 9α-fluoroprednisolone and vasoconstrictor agents. Withdrawal resulted in a complete remission of hypokalemia in one to two weeks in all patients. The hypertension and depressed levels of PRA, aldosterone and cortisol took longer to return to normal, varying from case to case; in all but one patient, the values returned to normal within two months. This report reveals another cause of factitious mineralocorticoid excess which may be considered in the differential diagnosis of hypokalemic hypertensive syndromes.
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