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Scientists Found New Gene Markers For Hypertension

Update Date: Feb 01, 2017 08:20 AM EST

Scientists found 107 new gene regions associated with high blood pressure. This new study was found by the Imperial College London (ICL) and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). It suggests the use of genetic testing to aid doctors with targeting medication for patients with high blood pressure.

The study was published in the journal of Nature Genetics. This can help patients get appropriate lifestyle changes to reduce risks of having a heart attack or stroke.

According to New Atlas, hypertension affects one third adults in the US and the UK. It is considered the leading factor for heart disease, stroke and death worldwide.

The researchers tested 9.8 million genes from 420,000 UK Biobank participants. They cross-referenced the genetic variants with blood pressure data. They found that majority of the 107 new gene regions showed high levels in blood vessels and cardiovascular tissue that could potentially be new targets for hypertension drug treatments.

By linking health and hospital data from the participants' blood pressure genes, the team developed a genetic risk score. The score could be used to predict increased risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.

OnMedica reported that the higher the risk scores the higher the chance of the patient having high blood pressure by age 50. This increases the rate of heart diseases and stroke by 50 percent.

If these risk scores could be measured early, it's possible to offset a person's risk through lifestyle interventions. This involves changing from sodium to potassium intake, managing weight, less alcohol consumption and more exercise.

Lead author from QMUL, Professor Mark Caulfied said after finding the new gene region, this "almost doubles the amount of genes we can evaluate to target for drug treatment. These exciting genetic regions could provide the basis for new innovative preventative therapies and lifestyle changes for this major cause of heart disease and stroke."

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