Study finds key to high blood pressure in pregnancy

( — Scientists have discovered a mechanism which raises blood pressure in pre-eclampsia, a potentially deadly condition that can occur in pregnancy, and say their work may help the search for new hypertension drugs.

Researchers at Britain’s Cambridge and Nottingham Universities said they had deciphered the first step in the main process that controls blood pressure — the release of a hormone called angiotensin, from its source protein, angiotensinogen.

“Although we primarily focused on pre-eclampsia, the research also opens new leads for future research into the causes of hypertension in general,” said Aiwu Zhou of Cambridge University, whose work was published in the journal Nature.

Experts estimate that the cost of treating pregnant women with pre-eclampsia is $45 billion a year in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. In developing countries, an estimated 75,000 women die of it each year.

If mothers and their babies survive, the women later have a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The babies are often born prematurely and can suffer complications later in life.


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