Genetic discoveries

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Genetic discoveries for blood pressure - BPA comment

UK charity the Blood Pressure Association has commented on a new study which has found common genes associated with high blood pressure.

The new study, which looked at the DNA of over 100,000 people, has identified eight genes which may be at least partly responsible for the development of high blood pressure. Although the individual effect of each gene is modest, in combination they could have a very strong influence on a person's blood pressure levels.

The study, co-authored by BPA trustee Professor Mark Caulfield and published online in the journal Nature Genetics [1], suggests that some of these genes may affect how the kidneys process salt, whereas others may affect how the blood vessels regulate blood pressure.

Mike Rich, Executive Director of the Blood Pressure Association, said: "Understanding the causes of hypertension is vital if we are to make further progress in treating the condition. As such, identifying these genes could be a real breakthrough and lead to the development of new medicines for the treatment of high blood pressure.

"But this is for the future and will involve a great deal more research. For now, people with high blood pressure should keep taking their medication and, for those who feel they are at risk because of the genetic or other factors, they should ask their GP for a simple blood pressure measurement."

Notes to editors

For further information or comment, please contact Anna Cureton at the Blood Pressure Association's Press Office on 020 8772 4993.

[1] Source: Newton-Cheh C et a. Genome-wide association study identifies eight loci associated with blood pressure. Nature Genetics, May 2009. Online publication ahead of print. 

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