Researchers led by UVa Health System pathologist Robin Felder, Ph.D., have demonstrated that looking for several variations of genes that control blood pressure can predict the risk for high blood pressure caused by high levels of salt. Once it is fully developed, this effective diagnostic test will be the first of its kind, says Dr. Felder, whose work will be published in the Feb. 23 issue of the journal Clinical Chemistry. When a subject had three or more variations in these genes, the new genetic test correctly predicted risk for salt-induced high blood pressure in 94 percent of cases. Health is adversely affected by high salt intake in up to half of Americans.
In a separate finding, two genes at most were necessary to predict with a 78 percent accuracy which people with high blood pressure (hypertension) had a low renin levels, a substance that is currently measured to help establish the diagnosis of salt (sodium chloride) sensitivity. Thus, the researchers found different genetic bases for low renin in the blood and for salt sensitivity. Salt sensitivity is defined as a greater than 10 percent increase in blood pressure following a high-salt meal.
The researchers also determined that the increase in subjects blood pressure and inability to eliminate excess salt from their systems was directly related to how many variations were found in the participants salt regulating genes, a phenomenon called a gene dosing effect. The more gene variants, the bigger the health problems.
Mary Jane Gore | EurekAlert!
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