Hypertension. Unmasking Genetic Predisposition Through Whole Exome Sequencing.

Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is a significant global health issue affecting millions of people. It is a chronic medical condition characterised by the elevation of blood pressure above normal levels, putting individuals at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

While lifestyle factors and environmental influences contribute to hypertension, recent advancements in genetic research have unveiled the role of genetics in predisposing individuals to this condition.

This blog explores the definition of hypertension, its impact on different populations, and the potential of whole exome sequencing (WES) in uncovering genetic predisposition.

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What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is a condition in which the force exerted by blood against the walls of the arteries is consistently too high.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and is recorded using two numbers: systolic pressure over diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure represents the force when the heart beats, while diastolic pressure signifies the force when the heart is at rest between beats.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), hypertension is diagnosed when blood pressure consistently reads 130/80 mmHg or higher.

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Hypertension: The Impact on Various Populations

Hypertension affects a diverse range of individuals, irrespective of age, gender, or ethnic background. Here are some key findings regarding its impact on different populations:

  1. Age: While hypertension becomes more prevalent with age, it can affect individuals at any stage of life. Young adults, including adolescents, are increasingly being diagnosed with hypertension due to sedentary lifestyles, poor dietary habits, and rising obesity rates.

  2. Gender: Historically, men have exhibited higher rates of hypertension. However, with changing lifestyles and aging populations, the gap is diminishing. After menopause, women are at an increased risk due to hormonal changes, such as a decrease in estrogen levels.

  3. Ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups are more prone to developing hypertension. For instance, African Americans have a higher prevalence and severity of hypertension compared to Caucasians. Additionally, individuals of South Asian and Hispanic descent also demonstrate an increased susceptibility.


Genetic Predisposition to Hypertension: Unveiling the Role of DNA

While hypertension is influenced by environmental factors such as diet, exercise, and stress, genetics play a crucial role in determining an individual's predisposition.

Recent advancements in genetic research, specifically whole exome sequencing (WES), have allowed scientists to identify specific genetic variants associated with hypertension.

WES is a technique that analyzes the protein-coding regions of an individual's DNA, known as the exome, providing valuable insights into genetic predisposition for various diseases.

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Whole Exome Sequencing: Identifying Genetic Variants

By analyzing an individual's exome, WES can identify variations in genes known to be involved in blood pressure regulation. Several genes, such as ACE, AGT, and NOS3, have been linked to hypertension and associated cardiovascular complications.

The identification of these genetic variants through WES enables healthcare professionals to assess an individual's risk of developing hypertension and tailor preventive strategies and treatments accordingly.

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Hypertension is a complex medical condition influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Understanding the role of genetics in predisposing individuals to hypertension can revolutionise preventative strategies and personalised treatments.

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American Heart Association. (n.d.). Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings

Chakraborty, S., Pandey, P., Mukhopadhyay, A., & Majumder, P. P. (2015). Genetic determinants of essential hypertension. Indian Journal of Human Genetics, 21(1), 1–7.

Kotchen, T. A., & Cowley, A. W. (2013). Genetics of hypertension. Medicine, 41(10), 588–594.

Lifton, R. P., Gharavi, A. G., & Geller, D. S. (2001). Molecular mechanisms of human hypertension. Cell, 104(4), 545–556. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0092-8674(01)00241-0

* Please note that at Parkside Designs Art we are not doctors or scientists. The information in this blog is informative only. We accept no liability in any form for the information provided.

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