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Hypertension affects over 20% of the UK population and represents a major cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality worldwide. The World
Health Organisation in 2002 suggested that there are 12M cardiovascular deaths worldwide and hypertension is responsible for about 7.1M of these.
from family studies suggests that hypertension has a complex
origin with an influence of 30% from genetic factors and the
remainder from environmental influences. Although we know many
of the environmental influences on blood pressure, which include
sodium, obesity and alcohol, we have little understanding of
the genetic basis.
progress in the search for hypertension genes has been made
in rare single gene disorders such as Glucocorticoid Suppressible
Hyperaldosteronism and Liddle's syndrome. It is interesting
to note that these rare causes all appear to lead to increased
blood pressure by affecting sodium homeostasis.
several study designs and approaches that can be taken to study
complex disorders such as hypertension. These may include investigation
of known candidates for hypertension from the physiology and
pharmacology of blood pressure regulation or screening the entire
genome for novel genes.
The MRC BRIGHT study has recruited family-based and case control resources to provide a robust national repository for the evaluation of the genetic basis of hypertension.