A multigenerational community-based clinical trial links the risk of high blood pressure in individuals to early onset hypertension in their parents. Blood pressure measurements collected from serial examinations were used to determine the genetic relation of early onset hypertension to risk cardiovascular death.
The relevance of genetic factors is increasingly recognized as an important factor for making more accurate clinical diagnosis. This is especially true in cases of complex conditions, such as hypertension and high blood pressure. These multifactorial heterogeneous conditions tend to have different forms that manifest due to a combination of lifestyle choices and genetic predisposition.
Hypertension (HT), commonly known as high blood pressure, is a condition that causes blood to flow through vessels with a greater force than normal. HT can strain the heart, damage blood vessels, and increase risk of heart attack, stroke and death. It is a complex and heterogeneous condition that presents in two forms – early onset and late onset hypertension.
A recent study published in The BMJ supports the claim that cases of early-onset hypertension in parents are linked to the development of HT in offspring. This genetic link might make it possible to diagnose HT with more certainty. More importantly, this association acts an important factor for establishing the risk of HT during clinical diagnosis. In a case-control study conducted at the Framingham Heart Study, blood pressure measurements were collected from two generations of participants. The parents (first generation) included 5209 individuals of the adult population of Framingham who participated in biennial examination that began in 1948. The progeny cohort (offspring) included 5124 participants, who were re-examined eight years after the initial examination in 1971, and then every four years. All participants provided information about their medical history and medication use, and underwent a medical examination and laboratory analysis for cardiovascular risk factors.
The main endpoint outcomes assessed the relationship between parental early onset HT (<55 years) and the incidence of HT in offspring, and how age is related to mortality cause. The results showed that parents with early, and not late onset HT are more likely to have children who develop HT and an increased risk of cardiovascular death. Moreover, the study highlights the importance of recording the age of onset of the affected parents during a clinical evaluation, as this information is important for blood pressure management in high-risk offspring. Although the study lacks specific information on interventions to prevent HT, it certainly highlights the significance of early onset HT and its association with the risk of developing a cardiovascular condition.
Written By: Akshita Wason, B. Tech, PhD