'Devastating condition'

Latest research on high blood pressure

Stanford Doctor Discusses High Blood Pressure: What We Know Now and What We Need to Know

Writing in PLOS ONE they say the gene fault may encourage the formation of blood clots - the ultimate cause of most heart attacks and strokes. Scientists hope gene tests may help doctors one day to pinpoint individuals more likely to suffer these conditions.

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But experts say lifestyle factors such as smoking and exercise have the greatest influence on risk. Around one in 10 people in the Caucasian population carries this variation of the gene, named PIA2.

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And researchers from King's College Latest research on high blood pressure reviewed more than 80 studies involving about 50, people - the largest analysis of this genetic fault to date. Threat to unders They found individuals with PIA2 were more likely to have a stroke - caused by a blood clot blocking blood supply to the brain - than those without the gene.

But how significant this increase is depends on an individual's baseline risk - influenced by factors such as smoking, diet, weight and exercise, the scientists say.

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In a second study published in the same journal, the scientists show PIA2 is also linked to an increased risk of heart attacks in people under More research is needed to see whether this holds true for the whole population, they say.

Aboutpeople have a stroke in the UK each year and more thanheart attacks are recorded annually.

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Both thrombotic strokes the most common kind and heart attacks are caused by blockage of blood vessels in the heart and brain - ultimately through the formation of clots. Platelets help trigger the formation of clots to stop bleeding after injury.

Email High blood pressure, particularly in the arteries that supply blood to the head and neck, may be linked with declining cognitive abilities, according to a new study from Australia. Researchers found that people with high blood pressure in the central arteries including the aorta, the largest artery in the human body, and the carotid arteries in the neck performed worse on tests of visual processing, and had slower thinking and poorer recognition abilities. Typically, blood pressure measurements are taken from the brachial artery in the arm, but looking at the health of the central arteries may be a more sensitive way to assess cognitive abilities, said study researcher Matthew Pase, of the Center for Human Psychopharmacology at Swinburne University in Melbourne. The central arteries directly control bloodflow to the brain. How it all works A beating heart pumps blood in spurts, but the central arteries are flexible, expanding and contracting to maintain steady bloodflow to the brain.

But scientists say carrying the gene may render them overactive. They caution that overall the genes play a smaller role in risk than more established factors, such as high blood pressure and obesity.

Email High blood pressure has just latest research on high blood pressure a new culprit: a newly discovered brain cell. While the usual suspects of heart risk — weight problems, stress, smoking, those salty slices of bacon — do contribute to high blood pressure, researchers think they've discovered a new cluster of neurons that also play a role. If these neurons also exist in human brains, scientists and doctors may have a new avenue for tackling hypertension chronically high blood pressure and other heart problems. These cells, which are part of a family of nerves known as parvalbuminergic neurons, are located in the hypothalamus of the mouse braina region that helps control involuntary functions such as thirst, body temperature and blood pressure. Jens Mittag, a molecular biologist at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, and his team focused on mice that had mutations in a cell receptor for thyroid hormone.

But developing a genetic test could help predict people at highest risk, allowing doctors to suggest more potent medication or lifestyle changes, they say. Prof Albert Ferro, of King's College London, who led the research, told the BBC: "We would now need to validate this test and see how useful it is in the clinical world. Regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and stopping smoking can be important steps to significantly reduce your stroke risk.

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