Researchers have discovered a new cause of high blood pressure which could lead to major changes in managing the disease.
In a study published in the journal JCI Insight, the researchers named the new cause as Connshing syndrome which is linked to the overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol.
It is known that in up to 10 per cent of hypertensive patients the overproduction of the adrenal hormone aldosterone — a condition known as primary aldosteronism or Conn syndrome — is the cause of disease.
The new study showed that a large number of patients with Conn syndrome do not only overproduce aldosterone but also the stress hormone cortisol.
"Our findings show that the adrenal glands of many patients with Conn syndrome also produce too much cortisol," said Professor Wiebke Arlt of the University of Birmingham in Britain.
The authors of the new study, conducted in collaboration with a group of scientists from Germany, decided to name this new cause of hypertension – the combined overproduction of aldosterone and cortisol — as Connshing syndrome.
At present, many Conn syndrome patients are treated with drugs that are directed against the adverse effects of aldosterone. However, this leaves the cortisol excess untreated.
"These findings are very likely to change clinical practice. Patients will now need to undergo more detailed assessment to clarify whether they suffer from Conn or Connshing syndrome," Katharina Lang of the University of Birmingham said.
"Also, researchers will now need to investigate whether treating the Connshing patients with an additional drug, which counteracts the cortisol excess, will improve their health outcomes," Lang said.