Screening of primary aldosteronism by clinical features and daily laboratory tests: combination of urine pH, sex, and serum K+

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To develop and validate a scoring system for selection of patients who should proceed to endocrinologic examinations of primary aldosteronism in newly diagnosed hypertensive patients.


A multivariate logistic regression analysis for primary aldosteronism was undertaken by use of seven possible primary aldosteronism markers, age less than 40 years, female sex, moderate-to-severe hypertension, hypokalemia, serum Na+ minus Cl− at least 40 mmol/l, serum uric acid 237.92 μmol/l or less (4.0 mg/dl), and urine pH (U-pH) at least 7.0, in consecutive outpatients newly diagnosed with hypertension. The diagnostic criteria of primary aldosteronism were plasma aldosterone concentration-to-plasma renin activity ratio [ARR, (ng/dl)/(ng/ml per h)] at least 20 and at least one positive result in four types of challenge tests.


Of 130 patients, 24 were diagnosed with primary aldosteronism. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) for a logistic model incorporating all possible primary aldosteronism markers was 0.73 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.61–0.85]. Removing high U-pH, female sex, and hypokalemia from the full model decreased the AUC by 0.059, 0.035, and 0.011, respectively. We devised pH of urine, female sex, low serum K+ (PFK) score, in which one point each was assigned to high U-pH, female sex, and hypokalemia. The prevalences of primary aldosteronism in patients with 0, 1, 2, and 3 points were 11, 14, 42, and 60%, respectively. In external validation datasets (n = 106), AUC of PFK score was significantly higher than that of hypokalemia alone (0.73, 95% CI: 0.63–0.83 vs. 0.53, 95% CI: 0.44–0.63, P < 0.01).


PFK score may be a better parameter than hypokalemia alone for identifying patients with a high probability of having primary aldosteronism.

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