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Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Genetics and hypertension

Genetic factors may contribute to an estimated thirty percent of cases of essential hypertension (high blood pressure of unknown cause). In the United States, high blood pressure occurs more frequently among African Americans than among white or Asian Americans. Adult African American men are most at risk for developing hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. The reason remains unknown, especially since non-American adult African men have very low occurrences of hypertension. A large percentage of people with essential hypertension have genetic abnormalities of their peripheral arteries (arterioles) — the small arteries that supply blood to the body's tissues. This genetic abnormality makes the walls of the arteries stiff so there is greater resistance to the blood flowing through them.

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