Genes linked to hypertension `discovered`

Last Updated: Nov 18, 2011, 12:52 PM IST

London: Scientists claim to have discovered five genes which cause high blood pressure, a key breakthrough they say may soon lead to a simple test that can predict when hypertension could trigger heart attacks or strokes.

A British team says that the discovery, published in the `American Journal of Human Genetics` also raises the hope of revolutionary treatments and a means to pinpoint those who are most at risk of a heart attack or stroke due to hypertension.

Lead author Prof Patricia Munroe said: "The new genes are an important discovery in tackling heart disease and stroke, but now we need to further our understanding of the way these genes function."

High blood pressure is caused by environmental factors such as diet, excess salt or alcohol consumption and also by lack of exercise. But genetic factors are also believed to play a part, meaning some are naturally more at risk.

And, the scientists at the University of London used blood pressure measurements from nearly 25,000 people to help identify genes that play a role in hypertension, or high blood pressure, the `Daily Express` reported.

The team identified five new genetic variations as well as confirming a number of previous discoveries. The scientists say that the findings could be used in future to develop ways to lower blood pressure.

Prof Mark Caulfield, a team member, said: "The biggest advance this discovery will give is new targets for new medicines. But it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that we will not only be able to identify those at risk but also those who will benefit from certain treatments.

"That is coming closer. The discovery is bound to give us new pathways by which we can tackle this disorder If we can have a test which shows who would respond best to which treatments, that would be a huge advance."

PTI