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Hypertension. 2003 Feb;41(2):207-10.

Antihypertensive treatments obscure familial contributions to blood pressure variation.

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  • 1Centre for Genetic Epidemiology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


The linkage and association between inherent blood pressure and underlying genotype is potentially confounded by antihypertensive treatment. We estimated blood pressure variance components (genetic, shared environmental, individual-specific) in 767 adult volunteer families by using a variety of approaches to adjusting blood pressure of the 244 subjects (8.2%) receiving antihypertensive medications. The additive genetic component of variance for systolic pressure was 73.9 mm Hg(2) (SE, 8.8) when measured pressures (adjusted for age by gender within each generation) were used but fell to 61.4 mm Hg(2) (SE, 8.0) when treated subjects were excluded. When the relevant 95th percentile values were substituted for treated systolic pressures, the additive genetic component was 81.9 mm Hg(2) (SE, 9.5), but individual adjustments in systolic pressure ranged from -53.5 mm Hg to +64.5 mm Hg (mean, +17.2 mm Hg). Instead, when 10 mm Hg was added to treated systolic pressure, the additive genetic component rose to 86.6 mm Hg(2) (SE, 10.1). Similar changes were seen in the shared environment component of variance for systolic pressure and for the combined genetic and shared environmental (ie, familial) components of diastolic pressure. There was little change in the individual-specific variance component across any of the methods. Therefore, treated subjects contribute important information to the familial components of blood pressure variance. This information is lost if treated subjects are excluded and obscured by treatment effects if unadjusted measured pressures are used. Adding back an appropriate increment of pressure restores familial components, more closely reflects the pretreatment values, and should increase the power of genomic linkage and linkage disequilibrium analyses.

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