Adrenal glands are triangular-shaped organs located on top of each kidney. They are primarily responsible for the release of hormones that have a stimulating effect on the heart, blood flow and dilation of arteries.
Each adrenal gland is divided into an outer cortex and an inner medulla. The adrenal cortex produces steroid hormones that maintain blood pressure and salt balance. The adrenal medulla is derived from nerve cells and is a source of catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline), which are “stress hormones” that increase alertness, strength and speed in an emergency.
A pheochromocytoma is a tumor that occurs in the adrenal medulla, which produces catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline), the so-called “stress hormones” that increase alertness, strength and speed in an emergency situation. In people with pheochromocytoma, the medulla produces excess catecholamines.