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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Heart disease link to body clock

15th December 2009

The development of hypertension in humans may be linked to disturbances in the body's circadian rhythm, according to new Japanese research.


Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, puts people at risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, and a multitude of other disorders.

Researchers have already identified many genes which pre-set the body's circadian rhythms, including a pair of molecules called cryptochromes.

The Japanese research team studied mice whose genes predisposed them to high survival rates in water-deprived conditions by means of a hormone called aldosterone.

The mice with high levels of aldosterone had a much higher risk of getting hypertension.

The research team found that their data confirmed what had already been established in people with sleep disorders, as well as in shift workers and long-distance flight crews.

They found that a gene controlling the body's circadian clock determines how much aldosterone the body will produce, and that humans also have the same gene.

Lead researcher Hitoshi Okamura of Kyoto University said that the research would potentially give doctors new methods of treating hypertension.

Bryan Williams of the University of Leicester said that there was a strong correlation between time of day and cardiovascular events.

He said that blood pressure tended to surge early in the morning, and that the Japanese research might provide insights into how this process could be disturbed.

Jeremy Pearson, British Heart Foundation associate medical director, said that people did not understand the genes controlling blood pressure, and stressed the need for further research in this field.

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