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Lifestyle May Counter Blood Pressure Genes
Date:6/16/2009

Smoking, drinking and more can override what you're born with, study finds

TUESDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) --Being born with genes that predispose you to high blood pressure doesn't mean you're doomed to have it, a long-term study shows.

"It's been known for many years that blood pressure is affected by genes," said Dr. Nora Franceschini, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina and lead author of a report on the study. "It's also known that lifestyle affects blood pressure. Now we are showing that they interact, and that the effect of those genes varies among individuals who have different behaviors."

It's an important finding because high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. The study, reported online Tuesday in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, "reinforces the message that lifestyle changes can alter the effect of genetics," Franceschini said.

That message comes from the Strong Heart Family Study, which has been looking at diabetes and high blood pressure among American Indians in Arizona, North and South Dakota and Oklahoma, an ethnic group in which the incidence of both is high. The study now includes more than 3,600 people aged 14 to 93.

The new report shows that different lifestyles and socioeconomic status influence the effect of inherited genetic patterns.

About 15 percent of the variation in diastolic blood pressure, the lower of the two numbers in a blood pressure reading, is because of genes, Franceschini said. The study linked the effects of three behavioral traits -- drinking, smoking and exercise -- with that of the genes. It also looked at education level, a socioeconomic factor.

The study found that genes for high blood pressure have a greater effect in smokers than nonsmokers, Franceschini said. It also found a similar effect for physical exercise. And it found
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