Blood pressure genes 'could prevent cardiovascular disease'

13 September 2011

Heart problems and major incidents such as strokes and heart attacks could be prevented thanks to the discovery of genes linked with blood pressure, researchers claim.

Scientists at Queen Mary, University of London, have discovered 16 new gene regions that have an affect on blood pressure while confirming a further 12 previously indentified.

The study, published in the Nature journal, sampled data from over 270,000 patients. Although blood pressure is influenced by a combination of genes and lifestyle factors, including weight gain, scientists have found it difficult to identify specific causal factors.

"High blood pressure affects a quarter of the adult population in the UK. These new gene regions we report today offer a major leap forward in our understanding," said Professor Mark Caulfield from the London Medical School and president of the British Hypertension Society.

The discoveries should facilitate new therapeutic drug development, according to Professor Patricia Munroe, also of the school.

Research published in Radiology meanwhile claimed that heart fat measured through a cardiac CT is also a key indicator of increased risk for developing coronary heart disease.

Posted by Philip Briggs

1 Ehret, Georg B., et. al., "Genetic variants in novel pathways influence blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk". Nature. Sunday September 11th 2011.

2 Bluemke, David A., "The Association of Pericardial Fat with Coronary Artery Plaque Index at MR Imaging: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)". Radiology. Tuesday August 16th 2011.

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