Body-sodium and Blood Volume in a Patient with Licorice-induced Hypertension

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A 68-year-old man with a nine-year history of licorice ingestion had moderate hypertension and low plasma potassium. Exchangeable sodium and blood volume were increased to 128 and 111%, respectively of the expected values; plasma renin and aldosterone levels were suppressed. Plasma norepinephrine concentration was distinctly elevated but the pressor response to infused norepinephrine was normal. After licorice withdrawal, blood pressure, plasma potassium and blood volume reverted to normal levels within three weeks, exchangeable sodium and plasma renin within four months. Exchangeable sodium in our patient with licorice-induced hypertension was increased to a comparable extent as in primary hyperaldosteronism. Moreover, blood pressure in relation to body sodium or plasma potassium did not differ between the exogenous or the endogenous types of mineralocorticoid excess. This observation does not support the possibility that in primary hyperaldosteronism excess aldosterone secretion per se could play an important pressor role independently from sodium retention.

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