While most of us relate high blood pressure to a bad diet or certain lifestyle choices, experts have now found that it might actually be genetic! A new study conducted found a genetic cause of a rare high blood pressure syndrome. Professor Ute Scholl and a team of scientists from the United States and Australia have now identified a new hypertension disease gene and the study focuses on a particular and very rare form of high blood pressure known as familial hyperaldosteronism type II.
This inherited disease causes the adrenal gland to produce a high level of aldosterone - a hormone that regulates the water and salt conservation in the kidneys. Excess of this hormone in the body shoots up the blood pressure hence giving you high blood pressure. Possible consequences of this syndrome may include heart attack, kidney failure and stroke. Besides obesity, salt consumption and alcohol intake, genetic factors play an important role in the development of hypertension.
Type II of familial hyperaldosteronism was first described in an Australian family 25 years ago. The research team investigated this family along with other patients suffering from hyperaldosteronism in childhood and adolescence. A total of eight families, including the large Australian family, showed mutations in a gene that had not previously been associated with blood pressure regulation. The CLCN2 gene carries information for building a channel in the cell membrane through which chloride ions can pass. Gene mutations in patients with familial hyperaldosteronism causes changes in the membrane voltage and results in the overproduction of aldosterone, which raises blood pressure.
The findings of this study have been published in the scientific journal, Nature Genetics.