Gene X Environmental Factors of Hypertension within the African American Community


  1. W. Montague Cobb Research Laboratory, Howard University
  2. Department of Biology, Howard University
  3. National Human Genome Center, Howard University Hospital

Jacob Walker 1,2

Fatimah Jackson, Ph.D. 1,2

Bradford Wilson. Ph.D. 1,3

Hypertension strains the heart and blood vessels, and increases the risk of stroke and kidney problems.Largely a symptomless condition, research indicates that reliable signs include, but are not limited to, chest pain, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, and presence of blood in the urine. More importantly, hypertension has its connections to other health problems, like cardiovascular disease, stroke, and renal disease. In the U.S., 41% of blacks suffer from hypertension, compared to 27% of whites. Research shows that Blacks develop high blood pressure at earlier ages than other American ethnic groups. They are thus more likely to develop problems associated with hypertension, like kidney disease and dementia. High blood pressure in the black community may be due in part to the genetic make-up of Black people. Black Americans are also more likely to be overweight than Blacks in other countries. Other hypertension risk factors include: smoking, excessive weight, low potassium intake, and high dietary salt and fat content. By utilizing the Cobb Collection, analysis of skeletal remains of individuals who suffered from hypertension will allow us to identify important genomic regions for the disease. Studies of their clinical and demographic records will allow us to reconstruct their environmental constraints. These analysis will provide insight as to how certain gene sets in particular environments contribute to hypertension and its related health discrepancies. This research will serve as a foundation for understanding the chemical and physical background for future epigenomic studies.

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