World Hypertension Day 2024: What Genetic Factors Cause High Blood Pressure? All You Need To Know

World Hypertension Day 2024: What Genetic Factors Cause High Blood Pressure? All You Need To Know

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a heart health condition that one-third of Indians carry and for most people with no signs or symptoms. It is a major risk factor for several severe health conditions such as coronary artery disease, stroke, kidney disease, etc. 

Maintaining systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings below 140 and 80 mmHg respectively is recommended. Consistent readings surpassing these thresholds indicate hypertension, while readings lower than 90 or 60 mmHg signify low blood pressure or hypotension, a less common but still serious condition.

Genetic Factors in Hypertension

Dr Ramesh Menon, Associate Director – Genomic Medicine, Personal Genomics Divisions, Bioinformatics dept, MedGenome Labs says, “Genetic predisposition plays a significant role in hypertension, with over 2000 genetic markers identified in recent research, including genes like AGT, AGTR1, ATP2B1, EDNRA, NOS2, etc. Individuals with first or second-degree blood relatives affected by hypertension are at an increased risk of developing the condition.”

Hypertension and Lifestyle Choices

Dr Ramehs further adds, “Comorbidities such as diabetes, and obesity can increase one’s risk of getting hypertension. Simultaneously these comorbidities also have a genetic basis. Non-genetic factors such as gender (men are at higher risk), age (advanced age, such as 60 years or above), and lifestyle choices (food habits such as high salt intake, smoking, stressful environment, etc) are also some factors that contribute to this condition.”

Hypertension: Early Detection and Prevention

While there is currently no cure for hypertension, medications are available to manage blood pressure levels. “With scientific advancements, pharmacogenomics has emerged as a promising field, tailoring medications based on individual genetic profiles. Pharmacogenomic tests assist clinicians in selecting appropriate antihypertensive drugs, minimizing adverse effects, and enhancing treatment efficacy.”

“As part of pre-emptive healthcare, genetic screening tests can help an individual detect the risk of hypertension as early as 18 years of age. The test uses a Polygenic Risk Score (PRS) to determine the risk of an individual developing the disease. The higher the score, there are more chance of developing the disease. With the increased focus on personalized medicine, using risk screening tools such as PRS enables the clinician to predict an individual’s genetic liability to rare and inherited diseases much in advance before the symptoms start appearing. The results can be evaluated by clinicians and geneticists to guide patients in early intervention, disease risk mitigation, and better treatment strategies,” highlights Dr Ramesh.

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