False-color scanning electron micrograph of artery containing red blood cells.
Blood thicker than oughter
One in three Americans – or roughly 68 million people – have hypertension or high blood pressure. The vast majority either don’t know they have it, or don’t have it under control.
They should. Hypertension, which essentially means blood pressure within arteries is higher than normal, forcing the heart to work harder than normal to push blood through the body’s circulatory system, is a major risk factor stroke, myocardial infarction (heart attacks), heart failure, aneurysms, peripheral arterial disease and a cause of chronic kidney disease.
Even moderate elevation of arterial blood pressure is associated with a shortened life expectancy.
Much is known about how to remedy the situation. Lifestyle changes can do a lot: Maintaining a healthy body weight, getting regular exercise, managing stress, limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking and eating a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and salt.
Much less is known about the fundamental mechanics of hypertension. Indeed, 90 to 95 percent of hypertension cases are categorized as “primary,” meaning there is no obvious underlying cause.
A little bit of hypertension’s mystery, however, may have been stripped away in a new paper by researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego Supercomputer Center and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.
Writing in the journal Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, lead author Igor F. Tsigelny, PhD, and colleagues describe designing new compounds that mimic naturally occurring molecules in the body that regulate blood pressure. The most promising of these may provide the key to controlling hypertension by switching off the signaling pathways that lead to the condition. You can read the whole news release here.