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Hypertension is not just the result of an unhealthy lifestyle
The data from one million people has led to the greatest progress in the world at the moment: "What influence do our genes have on blood pressure?" An English study reveals over 500 new gene regions that affect human blood pressure. It is clear that high blood pressure does not always have to be the result of an unhealthy lifestyle.
The data evaluation of over a million participants tripled the number of known genetic signals that influence blood pressure. This was the finding of an international team of researchers led by the Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College London. This largest study to date on the subject was recently published in the renowned journal "nature genetics".
Around 8 million deaths annually
Hypertension is a major risk factor for strokes, heart attacks and heart diseases. According to the study authors, around 7.8 million people died from the consequences of high blood pressure in 2015. Risk factors that result from an unhealthy lifestyle, such as obesity and obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption and high salt consumption are already well known and have been proven by numerous studies. The impact of genetics on blood pressure has so far been largely unknown.
A groundbreaking success
"We now know that there are over 1,000 genetic signals that affect our blood pressure," said Professor Mark Caulfield of the Queen William Harvey Research Institute in a press release on the study results. This is the biggest advance in blood pressure genetics research so far. Many new insights into how our body regulates blood pressure could be derived from it. In addition, the study results would show new opportunities for future drugs.
The risk of high blood pressure is predictable
"With this information, we could calculate a person's genetic risk for high blood pressure later in life," explains Professor Caulfield. This would enable risk patients to be identified early on and lifestyle interventions to be initiated.
Different groups of hypertension patients
The international team of researchers analyzed the DNA of more than a million people and compared the genetic information with their blood pressure data. In this way, genetic variants could be identified that are associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure. "The identification of the various genetic signals will increasingly help us to divide patients into risk groups," explains Deputy Study Director Professor Paul Elliott from Imperial College London. The division could enable doctors to intervene much earlier in the development of the disease.
New treatment methods opened
The study shows possible new goals for drug development. It was discovered that some drugs that are already used for other diseases could also be used to treat high blood pressure. The researchers cite the type 2 diabetes drug canagliflozin as an example. These findings could result in new, fast and inexpensive drug therapies for hypertension, which could help patients who show resistance or intolerance.
Old acquaintances in genetic research
The researchers also found gene variants that influence blood pressure that are already associated with other diseases. The team was able to prove that the so-called APOE gene, which is known for an increased risk of arterial diseases and Alzheimer's disease, also influences blood pressure.
Get healed before you're sick
"Knowing which genes cause high blood pressure can help us identify those at risk before the damage occurs," said Professor Jeremy Pearson of the British Heart Foundation. Those who are at risk could be treated with medication or lifestyle changes before they get sick. This could prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes every year. (vb)