Endocrine causes of hypertension in pregnancy

Alison H. Affinati, Richard J. Auchus


Hypertension is a common and morbid complication of pregnancy. While endocrine causes of secondary hypertension are not rare, women with these conditions do not often conceive, and even less commonly are these disorders diagnosed during pregnancy. This review will consider conditions of adrenal hormone excess that cause secondary hypertension: primary aldosteronism (PA), Cushing syndrome (CS), and pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma. We emphasize that pregnancy itself elicits changes in the regulation of aldosterone and cortisol production and standard endocrine testing algorithms. Furthermore, conventional imaging modalities and pharmacotherapies are often contraindicated in pregnancy, which complicates diagnosis and management. Nevertheless, surgical management in the second trimester is the preferred treatment strategy for most of these rare cases when feasible. This article will discuss the approach to patients with endocrine causes of hypertension during pregnancy with emphasis on those aspects that deviate from the assessment and treatment of non-pregnant patients.