Genetics & Genomics

May 19, 2022

Genetics and blood pressure

Including polygenic risk scores for blood pressure may improve predictive models to identify people at risk for treatment-resistant hypertension.

People with difficult to control high blood pressure (apparent treatment-resistant hypertension, aTRH) are at higher risk for coronary artery disease and stroke than people with controlled high blood pressure. 

To improve identification of people at risk for aTRH, Jacklyn Hellwege, PhD, and colleagues analyzed the associations between genetic determinants of blood pressure and aTRH by self-reported race and ethnicity. The researchers used data from BioVU, Vanderbilt’s DNA biobank linked to de-identified electronic health records, and computed polygenic risk scores (PRS; high scores predict high blood pressure). 

They found that systolic blood pressure PRS was associated with aTRH risk overall and in non-Hispanic white people, but not in non-Hispanic Black people (perhaps because of limited sample size, they noted). 

The findings in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine support including PRS in predictive models for aTRH to improve screening strategies, achieve more rapid blood pressure control, and reduce the risk of negative outcomes.

Other authors of the study include Joseph Breeyear, Megan Shuey, PhD, and Todd Edwards, PhD. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants DK108444, HD004348, TR002244) and BioVU funding sources.