Scientists have discovered four new gene variations that are associated with blood pressure.
The 19-site meta-analysis, involving nearly 30,000 African-Americans, also found that the set of genetic mutations are also associated with blood pressure across other populations.
Co-senior author Xiaofeng Zhu, PhD Epidemiology and biostatistics professor, said that in addition to their disproportionate suffering, hypertension occurs earlier in life for African-Americans compared to individuals of other ancestries.
Zhu and his colleagues also confirmed that previous findings regarding other genes whose presence correlates with increased hypertension risk.
Zhu said that although it is unknown how the genes regulate blood pressure and that their findings contribute to better understanding of blood pressure pathways that can lead to future development of drug target for hypertension and may guide therapy for clinical care.
Experts estimate genetic make-up accounts for roughly 40-50 percent of individuals' susceptibility to hypertension. Other factors associated with the disease include lifestyle, diet, and obesity.
Compared to Americans of European-ancestry, African-Americans' increased hypertension prevalence contributes to a greater risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and end-stage renal disease.
The study has been published in The American Journal of Human Genetics.