Clinical Score and Machine Learning-Based Model to Predict Diagnosis of Primary Aldosteronism in Arterial Hypertension


Primary aldosteronism (PA) is the cause of arterial hypertension in 4% to 6% of patients, and 30% of patients with PA are affected by unilateral and surgically curable forms. Current guidelines recommend screening for PA ≈50% of patients with hypertension on the basis of individual factors, while some experts suggest screening all patients with hypertension. To define the risk of PA and tailor the diagnostic workup to the individual risk of each patient, we developed a conventional scoring system and supervised machine learning algorithms using a retrospective cohort of 4059 patients with hypertension. On the basis of 6 widely available parameters, we developed a numerical score and 308 machine learning-based models, selecting the one with the highest diagnostic performance. After validation, we obtained high predictive performance with our score (optimized sensitivity of 90.7% for PA and 92.3% for unilateral PA [UPA]). The machine learning-based model provided the highest performance, with an area under the curve of 0.834 for PA and 0.905 for diagnosis of UPA, with optimized sensitivity of 96.6% for PA, and 100.0% for UPA, at validation. The application of the predicting tools allowed the identification of a subgroup of patients with very low risk of PA (0.6% for both models) and null probability of having UPA. In conclusion, this score and the machine learning algorithm can accurately predict the individual pretest probability of PA in patients with hypertension and circumvent screening in up to 32.7% of patients using a machine learning-based model, without omitting patients with surgically curable UPA.

Authors: Fabrizio Buffolo, Jacopo Burrello, Alessio Burrello, Daniel Heinrich, Christian Adolf, Lisa Marie Müller, Rusi Chen, Vittorio Forestiero, Elisa Sconfienza, Martina Tetti, Franco Veglio, Tracy Ann Williams, Paolo Mulatero, Silvia Monticone
Keywords: machine learning, diagnosis
DOI Number: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.121.17444      Publication Year: 2021

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