Major UK Study Homes In On Genes Responsible for High Blood Pressure
results of a six-year, Medical Research Council (MRC) funded study – involving
20 University of Leicester researchers - to identify the genes responsible for
hypertension, are published in The Lancet
MRC British Genetics of Hypertension (BRIGHT) study is the largest white
European genome scan for high blood pressure (hypertension) published to date,
involving 1600 families with at least two siblings who have severe hypertension.
from previous family studies suggests that hypertension results from a complex
mix of inherited factors or genes and the influences of lifestyle (environment).
Some risk factors that can be modified such as obesity, alcohol
consumption and dietary salt intake, are well recognised but until now there has
been little understanding of the genes that raise blood pressure.
MRC BRIGHT Study has identified four areas of the human genome that may contain
genes causing hypertension. These findings move us much closer to the main
inherited causes for human hypertension.
Mark Caulfield of Barts and The London, Queen Mary’s School of Medicine,
is one of the lead researchers of the study.
He said: “High blood pressure affects more than 20 per cent of the UK
population, and is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.
By understanding the genes which predispose people to common disorders
such as hypertension, we may gain insights into the mechanisms behind the
condition, possibly discover new medications and improve control of this major
cause of heart disease and stroke.”
BRIGHT study is a national collaboration between Barts and The London, Queen
Mary’s School of Medicine, and the Universities of Aberdeen, Cambridge,
Glasgow, Leicester and Oxford. Researchers from the partner institutes screened
the genetic code of 1599 families with severe hypertension. This is like a
fingerprint search for critical evidence. The BRIGHT study results enable us to
home in on areas of the human genome that may contain important genes for this
common disorder. At this time we do not know the precise genetic factors.
funding and support for the study came from the MRC, with additional funds from
The British Heart Foundation, The Wellcome Trust, Scottish Higher Education
Funding Council, British Hypertension Society, Barts and The London Charitable
Foundation, and the Centre Nationale de Genotypage.
further information please contact (can local press officers co-ordinate
with Sally who will act as a link with Johnny Steyn at MRC and National news
Leicester: Please contact Professor Samani, 0116 256 3054
is persistent abnormally high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the pressure of
blood in your arteries. The blood circulation is a closed system in which the
pressure varies constantly. It rises to a peak, called the systolic pressure, at
the height of the contraction of each heartbeat as the heart pumps blood out.
Then it falls to a lower level, called the diastolic pressure, which it reaches
just before each heartbeat. The diastolic pressure is the running pressure
pressure varies constantly with the level of physical exertion, with anxiety,
stress, emotional changes, and other factors. So single measurements are not
particularly meaningful and the blood pressure should be checked under resting
conditions, at different times. Blood pressure is measured in terms of
millimetres of mercury (mmHg). Hypertension is usually defined as a sustained
systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or more, or diastolic blood pressure of 90
mmHg or more, at rest.
recent World Health Organisation report (http://www.who.int/en/index)
suggests that blood pressure may contribute to 50% of the global cardiovascular
disease epidemic which kills more than 12 million people annually worldwide.
Lifestyle modification by losing weight, reducing alcohol consumption and low
salt intake can reduce blood pressure but most patients with hypertension
require treatment with several medications.
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.