One part of the research effort was a similar genetic analysis done on 980 people from West Africa, the home area of the ancestors of most black Americans. That study confirmed that some of the genetic variants seen in black Americans are also found in West African people, the report said.
But the genes are not unique to people of African origin, Rotimi said. Two of the variants have been found to be associated with high blood pressure in the general population, he said.
All five variants are associated with high systolic pressure, the higher of the reading, the pressure when the heart contracts, Rotimi said.
The study is important because "it is one of only a very few of the large genome-wide studies done on an African-American population," said Michael Christman, president and chief executive officer of the Coriell Institute for Medical Research, a nonprofit New Jersey organization. "Almost all the available genetic information stems from populations of western European origin."
The actual genotyping was done at the Coriell Institute, Christman said.
The institute has been busy with similar genetic studies recently, Christman said. "Genome-wide studies are going on all over the place," he noted.
These provide findings that can eventually be applied to medical practice, Christman said. "Emerging studies indicate how genetic makeup shows how people will respond to drugs," he said. "So it's important that there be more of these studies."
For basic facts on high blood pressure, go to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Charles Rotimi, Ph.D., senior investigator, Nationa
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