Researchers from the Queen Mary University of London have discovered eleven new genes instrumental in regulating high blood pressure and heart disease. High blood pressure is a world wide concern, estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths, with high salt intake and obesity a major risk factor.
Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps blood into the arteries (blood vessels), which carry the blood throughout the body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is dangerous as it makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the body and contributes to hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis, and to the development of potential heart failure.
A blood pressure reading has a top number (systolic) and bottom number (diastolic). The ranges are:
Normal: Less than 120 over 80 (120/80)
Prehypertension: 120-139 over 80-89
Stage 1 high blood pressure: 140-159 over 90-99
Stage 2 high blood pressure: 160 and above over 100 and above
People whose blood pressure is above the normal range should consult their doctor about steps to take to lower it.
“Discovering these new genetic variants provides vital insight into how the body regulates blood pressure. With further research, we are hopeful it could lead to the development of new treatments for treating blood pressure and heart disease — a leading cause of death worldwide, said Patricia Munroe, Professor of Molecular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London.”
Michael Barnes, Director of Bioinformatics, Barts and The London NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit, Queen Mary University of London, related the discovery to possible new treatment modalities:
“By highlighting several existing drugs that target proteins which influence blood pressure regulation, our study creates a very real opportunity to fast-track new therapies for hypertension into the clinic.”
The discovery of new genes enables medical professionals to identify people at high risk for hypertension and to recommend the appropriate preventative measures, which may include changes in diet and lifestyle.
Foods involved in lowering blood pressure naturally include fruits and vegetables and the National Institute of Health (NIH) has recommended adopting healthy eating practices as a measure of lowering blood pressure. The foods include celery, broccoli, dandelion, whole grain oats, black beans, berries, low fat dairy and cold water fish.
Vinicius Tragante, Brendan J. Keating et al. Gene-centric Meta-analysis in 87,736 Individuals of European Ancestry Identifies Multiple Blood-Pressure-Related Loci. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2013.12.016