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Hypertension research breakthrough: 500 plus genetic risk factors discovered

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Photo by Lucas Vasques on Unsplash

Hypertension, also known as the “ Silent Killer” is one of the leading cause of cardiovascular death around the globe. According to the American Heart Association statistics, there are more than 100 million people in the United States now have Hypertension. This disease is also responsible for various other health risks such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney failure, and the loss of vision.

The leading causes of hypertension can be divided into two types, controllable and noncontrollable. Controllable factors mostly consist of unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking, an unhealthy diet, excessive alcohol intake, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity. Where the uncontrollable factors include ethnicity, gender, genetics, and age, etc. Hypertension can also result from a previously underlying medical condition.

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But other than these known risk factors of hypertension, can there be more of them? New research led by scientists at Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College London tried to dig deeper into the human genetic architecture to find that answer. They have reviewed the genetic data of over 1 million people and found more than 500 new genetic regions that could be related to hypertension and stroke.

The research team examined genetic data of over 1 million participants from European region and blood pressure data from the UK Biobank database and the International Consortium of Blood Pressure Genome-Wide Association Studies. They have also cross-referenced it with data on their systolic, diastolic, and pulse blood pressure.

By the end of the study, the researchers discovered 535 new genes that are associated with high blood pressure. This discovery not only offers new biological insights into blood pressure regulation but also to highlight the shared genetic connection between blood pressure and lifestyle habits. This is one the most significant advancement regarding blood pressure genetic research and the finding might play a significant role in future prediction and management of hypertension.

The research paper “Genetic analysis of over 1 million people identifies 535 new loci associated with blood pressure traits” was published on September 17, 2018, in the journal of Nature Genetics.

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