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Genetic variants influence blood pressure: study

New research has uncovered a link between genes and blood pressure – however experts say that lifestyle factors are still important contributors to hypertension.

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Image: Andrew Parsons/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A NUMBER OF sections of genetic code have been linked to blood pressure by an international group of experts investigating the causes of hypertension.

The study, which originally examined the genetics of around 200,000 people of European descent, found that almost everyone will carry at least one of the genetic variants identified.

Some 29 genetic variations – 16 of which were identified for the first time – were found to be associated with blood pressure by the researchers working as part of the International Consortium for Blood Pressure Genome-Wide Association Studies, whose findings are published in Nature and Nature Genetics.

The research showed that each individual variant was linked to a slight increase in risk of hypertension and that the risk duly increased in individuals with multiple variants, according to Time. The study was then expanded to include 70,000 people of East Asian, South Asian or African descent, after which researchers reported similar results.

By identifying the genes associated with high blood pressure, researchers have opened the possibility of the condition being targeted with drugs – for example, they said, with the use of nitric oxide.

Despite the breakthroughs associated with the study, however, researchers say that they have still only uncovered about one per cent of the genetic contribution to hypertension.

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While genetic factors have been linked to high blood pressure, experts warn that lifestyle factors remained important considerations when battling hypertension, the BBC reports. Obesity, lack of exercise and too much dietary salt are all known to contribute to the risk of high blood pressure.

Read: Over 60 per cent of deaths in 2008 caused by cardiovascular diseases and cancers>

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