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primary adrenal insufficiency

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Addison's disease or primary adrenocortical deficiency results from destruction of the adrenal cortex. Glucocorticoid, mineralocorticoid and sex steroid production are all reduced.

It is a rare condition with a prevalence of 93-140 per million people and an annual incidence of 4.7-6.2 per million people in Western populations (1).

  • in UK Addison’s disease affects around 1 in 10,000 individuals with an estimate of around 8400 currently diagnosed cases (2)
  • according to a recent epidemiological study the incidence of Addison’s disease is on the rise (1)
  • may occur at any age but commonly seen between the ages of 30-50 years (2)
  • women are affected more than men (3)

Autoimmune adrenalitis accounts increasingly for the condition as tuberculosis has become less common.

The disease may remain subclinical for a long period of time (4).

Notes (5):

  • primary and secondary adrenal insufficiency share many clinical features - however, they differ in that only primary adrenal insufficiency is characterized by mineralocorticoid deficiency and by hyperpigmentation

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