This project aims at translating two key cardiovascular public health burdens, namely, hypertension and chronic kidney disease (CKD), from fundamental research into clinical research and public health interventions. Hypertension (high blood pressure [BP]) affects about 1 billion people worldwide. The precise mechanisms responsible for hypertension are unknown in most cases, although we know that the kidney plays a key role in BP control.
Because high BP and kidney function aggregate in families, this project focuses on unraveling the genetic determinants of BP and kidney function in the Swiss general population. The advantage of identifying genetic determinants early in the continuum from health to disease is to be able to target preventive measures to those who will benefit most and therapeutic measures at an early stage in the disease process. The backbone of the project is the ongoing European Project on Genes in Hypertension (EPOGH). It become increasingly evident that genes interact with multiple environment factors, including diet and lifestyle. This project also compares findings in Switzerland with findings in the Seychelles, an African country with a high prevalence of hypertension.
We used the standardized protocole of the ongoing European Project on Genes in Hypertension (EPOGH), which includes 24-h BP monitoring and urine collection, blood sampling, ECG, properties of blood vessels and a ultrasound of the kidney.
Among other findings, we found caffeine intake to protect non-smokers against hypertension. Such protective effect could not be observed among smokers. We are currently preparing a description of kidney morphological abnormalities and BP distribution in the Swiss population, including their genetic and non-genetic determinants.
Keywords: hypertension, genetics, chronic kidney disease, renal function, population-based study, family-based study.