The finding reinforces the standing advice to consider family history when assessing the risk of high blood pressure, said Dr. Barry Davis, a professor of biostatistics at the Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston.
"Everyone should have their blood pressure checked early," he said. "If they have a family history of hypertension I would check it more often, and at an earlier age."
While high blood pressure has many potential causes, "I would expect it to have a genetic factor," Davis said. "Potentially many genes are involved in the regulation of blood pressure. We're trying to find out what they are and how they operate."
Regardless of the exact cause, medication, careful attention to diet and exercise can help keep blood pressure under control, Wang and Davis said.
Another study in the same issue of the journal looked at 48 medical papers on the effect of diet and medication on high blood pressure. The study, conducted by researchers at the Medical University of Graz in Austria, concluded that a diet that reduced weight by about 9 pounds would bring blood pressure down 6 points, and that use of the weight-loss medication Orlistat also reduced blood pressure.
You can learn about healthy blood pressure and how to achieve it from the U.S. Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Nae-Yuh Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor, medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; Barry Davis, M.D., professor and director, biostatistics, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston; March 24, 2008, Archives of Internal Medicine
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