Largest ever genetic study of blood pressure

October 08, 2018

The largest ever genetic analysis of over one million people has identified 535 new genes associated with high blood pressure.

The international team included Professor Jo Knight of Lancaster University Medical School who is Chair in Applied Data Science.

The researchers concluded : "The combined effect of all associated variants shows a large aggregated risk, warranting further investigation of a potential precision medicine strategy to prevent future cardiovascular disease amongst patients at high genetic risk."

High blood pressure is a highly heritable and modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

All the genetic variants identified so far only explain between 3% and 4% of the difference between two people with different blood pressures.

But this newest study has identified three times more genetic traits which influence blood pressure.

The findings, published in Nature Genetics, have identified new biological pathways for blood pressure regulation with the potential for improved cardiovascular disease prevention in the future.

Scientists examined around 7 million common genetic variants for an association with systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as pulse pressure.

They identified a total of 535 new genes influencing blood pressure in an individual, bringing the total number of genes identified to 901.

Researchers said: "The combination of all blood pressure variants is associated with?>?10mmHg higher systolic blood pressure and odds of 2.59 and 1.45 for increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular outcomes, respectively."

There is also a genetic overlap between hypertension and lifestyle exposures, with many blood pressure genes also associated with, for example, an individual's intake of fruit, water, tea, caffeine, alcohol and salt.
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Lancaster University

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