Cardiovascular Disease Hypertension

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Cardiovascular disease is currently the nation’s leading non-communicable cause of morbidity and mortality. According to the American Heart Association, the most common form of cardiovascular disease is coronary artery disease, a condition in which the heart’s blood supply is reduced due to a narrowing of the coronary arteries. These arteries play a significant role in regulating the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. As blood circulates through the arteries, it exerts a force against the vessel walls, known as blood pressure. To withstand this pressure, elastic fibers interspersed along the artery walls allow the arteries to expand and recoil. Abnormally high blood pressure, however, will cause these muscles to thicken as a result of tears in the damaged artery walls trapping particles that aggregate as plaque. Progressive build-up of plaque ultimately leads to a narrowing of the arteries, subsequently diminishing blood flow to the heart and other body organs. This cascade of events triggered by high blood pressure illustrates why hypertension is one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Affecting 1 in every 3 adults in the United States alone, hypertension substantially raises the risk for heart disease in an affected individual who, most likely, does not show any signs or symptoms. In addition to the risks associated with this “silent killer,” comorbidities such as obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol can drastically worsen health outcomes in hypertensive patients. Given the high prevalence and severe consequences of hypertension if undetected, researching this particular topic will increase our understanding of the causes of hypertension by identifying and narrowing down lead candidates for pot...

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...sion can drive the advancement of a possible cure for hypertension through gene therapy. On a conceptual level, the strategy of gene therapy presents many benefits over conventional drug treatment, such as long-lasting modification of defective or variant genes and elimination of side-effect issues. Intriguingly, the genetics of essential hypertension is an interesting issue because we often think of hypertension as a result of our lifestyle habits and environmental factors. However, the study of genetics can really help to predict disorders in individuals at risk through the examination of particular affected genetic loci that influences that disorder. Such an intervention would make the prevention and treatment of hypertension, a prevalent disorder with a large impact on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in the present day, more feasible and highly effective.

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