Guidelines for primary aldosteronism: uptake by primary care physicians in Europe

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Abstract

Context:

Primary aldosteronism is the most frequent form of secondary hypertension but is still markedly underdiagnosed. In 2008, the Endocrine Society released guidelines for primary aldosteronism diagnosis and management; current indications are that they are not being widely followed.

Objective:

To investigate the level of knowledge and application of the guidelines in a large representative cohort of general practitioners (GPs) in Italy and Germany.

Setting and design:

The study was carried out by web questionnaire on hypertension and primary aldosteronism management with 500 GPs (250 in Italy and 250 in Germany), stratified by geographical area and city size.

Results:

The mean number of patients seen was 1747 (Germany) and 1388 (Italy). Of these, 18% were diagnosed as hypertensive in Italy and 25% in Germany. Renin and aldosterone measurements were ordered by 7% of GPs in Italy and 8% in Germany. GPs in Italy considered 8% of patients eligible for aldosterone and renin measurements compared with 13% of GPs in Germany. In Italy, primary aldosteronism prevalence was 1% among hypertensive patients; 36% of the GPs reported no primary aldosteronism patients under their care or diagnosed previously. In Germany, the prevalence of primary aldosteronism was 2% among hypertensive patients; 19% of GPs had no primary aldosteronism patients.

Conclusion:

In Germany and in Italy, primary aldosteronism is not widely recognized by GPs; Endocrine Society guidelines for primary aldosteronism diagnosis are not well known or applied, resulting in marked underdiagnosis of the disease.

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