We measured urinary and plasma aldosterone in normal subjects, aged 20 to 59 years, during a period of unrestricted sodium intake and after sodium depletion, using furosemide or a 20 meq sodium diet. Before and after sodium depletion, the mean and the upper limit of the range of urinary aldosterone excretion were considerably lower in subjects over 50 years compared with subjects under 30 years. Aging had no effect on plasma aldosterone concentration when the subjects were on an unrestricted sodium diet and blood was sampled while they were recumbent. In contrast, when the subjects were upright, both before and after sodium depletion, the mean and the upper limit of the range of plasma aldosterone concentration were lower in the subjects over 50 years compared with those under 30 years. The metabolic clearance of aldosterone was the same in the younger and the older subjects. Of eight patients over 40 years of age with aldosterone-producing adenoma, four had normal aldosterone excretion rates when the normal range was not age adjusted, but with age adjustment, all of the patients had clearly elevated excretion rates. Similarly, six of seven patients over 40 years of age had normal upright plasma aldosterone concentrations if the normal range of plasma aldosterone concentration was not age adjusted. We conclude that aldosterone secretion declines with advancing age. The effect of age on aldosterone secretion is an important consideration when evaluating older hypertensive patients for primary aldosteronism.
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