"Our study shows a comprehensive effect across multiple behaviors," she said.
The findings help answer whether genes alone determine high blood pressure, said Dr. Richard A. Stein, a professor of medicine and director of the urban community cardiology program at New York University and a spokesman for the American Heart Association.
"The answer is, not by a long shot," Stein said. "The actual effect is explained only by adding behavioral and socioeconomic factors into the equation. It is actually more how you live than what you are born with."
The next step in the study is an effort to identify the specific genes that interact with each of the behavioral traits to increase blood pressure, Franceschini said. Analysis of the entire genome "may allow us to identify the particular genes that account for the interaction," she said.
Another study reported in the same issue of the journal showed that small changes in measures aimed at controlling high blood pressure can produce significant results.
One such measure was distribution of wallet cards to track clinic visits, document blood pressure, update drug data and provide contact information, according to a report from the VA-Tennessee Valley Healthcare System.
More than 30,000 such cards were given to veterans in the system, and the result was a 4.2 percent improvement in blood pressure control, which translates into a significant reduction of cardiovascular risk, the report said.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has more on high blood pressure.
SOURCES: Nora Franceschini, M.D., research assistant professor, epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Pub
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