Are genetics the only reason for high blood pressure among certain hispanic populations?

February 20, 2002 San Francisco -- In earlier research Juan C. Mendible, Ph.D., and his colleagues examined the genetics of the Venezuelan aborigines, a population that has lived in the remote southeastern part of that country for 25,000 years. The investigators discovered that although more than 85 percent of the aborigines carried a gene that is associated with salt- sensitive hypertension, the population did not develop this disorder.

These findings were especially noteworthy as they stood in stark contrast to other data. Namely, that cardiovascular disease which includes hypertension (also known as high blood pressure) is the leading cause of death among Venezuelans age 35 and older. Thus, other factors must play a role in the development of the disease. But what are they?

A Study of 700 Healthy Males in Venezuela
In their latest research, Dr. Mendible and his team have examined 700 healthy young males in Venezuelan to test the notion that high blood pressure among certain Hispanic populations is related to genes as well as the environment. Half of the study volunteers had a family history of hypertension.

After a cold stress test was applied to the entire population the research results revealed that those with a family history of high blood pressure had statistically significant higher responses to the test compared to those without a high blood pressure family history. Yet, when the frequency genes of the two groups were compared, there was essentially no difference between them.

Dr. Mendible believes that since the cold stress test affects a certain function of the heart, those individuals with a family history of high blood pressure may be more likely to have a dysfunction in this particular layer of the heart.

Dr. Mendible is the head of the Laboratory of Molecular Cardiology at the Institute of Experimental Medicine at the Unviversidad Central de Venezuela. He will discuss these findings and clinical the

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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