Genetics and Blood Pressure In African-Americans

NorvascResearchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have discovered five genetic variants related to blood pressure (BP) in African-Americans. This genome-wide association study may provide new clues to treating and preventing hypertension in this population.

About one-third of adults in the U.S. have chronic high BP. In African-Americans, however, hypertension affects 39% of men and 43% of women.

Researchers analyzed DNA samples from 1,017 participants in the Howard University Family Study who identified themselves as African-American. Five genetic variants were found significantly more often in people with hypertension than in those without it. The variants were associated with high systolic BP but not with diastolic BP or combined systolic/diastolic BP.

Although the effect of each genetic variant was modest, the findings extended the scope of what was known about genetics and hypertension. Calcium-channel blockers already target one of the genes, CACNA1H.

Source: PLoS Genetics, July 17 online