Article Text


Relation of plasma aldosterone concentration to diuretic treatment in patients with severe heart disease.
  1. R K Knight,
  2. P A Miall,
  3. L A Hawkins,
  4. J Dacombe,
  5. C R Edwards,
  6. J Hamer


    To assess the relation of hyperaldosteronism and potassium depletion to the intensity of diuretic therapy we have measured plasma aldosterone by radioimmunoassay and total exchangeable potassium by radioisotope dilution in 24 patients when they were stable at the end of their preparation for cardiac operation. Some patients required intensive frusemide therapy to reach an optimal state for operation and many showed hyperaldosteronism. Plasma aldosterone was significantly related to daily dose of frusemide (r=0.77). Depletion of total exchangeable potassium expressed in terms of predicted weight was significantly related to plasma aldosterone (r= -0.64). The reduction in total exchangeable potassium is interpreted as chiefly related to loss of lean tissue mass from the wasting that leads to cardiac cachexia, but evidence is presented on the basis of measurements of extracellular fluid volume as sulphate space (20 patients) of entry of sodium into the cells which may indicate a true cellular potassium loss. Although plasma potassium is usually easily maintained with oral potassium supplements or aldosterone antagonists, we postulate that intensive diuretic therapy in severe heart disease may provoke hyperaldosteronism which accentuates potassium loss and may contribute to wasting and to intracellular potassium depletion in critical tissue, such as myocardium.

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