It's in the genes

KEEP COOL You might have been born with anger in you

KEEP COOL You might have been born with anger in you  

Research reveals a link between genes and hypertension

Researchers exploring how a gene related to the chemical messenger dopamine affects behaviour have stumbled on an unexpected role the gene appears to play in high blood pressure.

The researchers, reporting their results in The American Journal of Hypertension, say it appears that people who have a long form of the gene tend to have higher blood pressure.

They are also more likely to have blood pressure that rises with age.

The study, led by Dr. Alan B. Weder of the University of Michigan, had set out to determine what role the gene, known as DRD4, has on the way people behave.

The gene helps cells accept messages from dopamine, and longer versions of it have been found in people with behavioural disorders. Some scientists have explored whether it plays a role in thrill-seeking behaviour or alcohol dependence, the study said. The researchers drew on data from more than 850 people involved in a genetic study in Tecumseh, Michigan.

And though they found that people with the longer gene were more likely to report regular alcohol use, the researchers found little evidence to support an association with particular personality traits.

The study did, however, find a possible link with high blood pressure.

Although dopamine has been shown to affect blood pressure through its actions in the kidneys, until now DRD4 was not known to play any role in the process.

Just having the longer form of the gene is unlikely, by itself, to result in high blood pressure, the researchers said. But if its role in hypertension is confirmed, the information may help doctors determine which patients need extra monitoring.

The New York Times

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