The researchers at Norwegian University say that stiff or inelastic arteries are the major cause of high blood pressure. The researchers experimented and verified this several times on a computer design of a “virtual human.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that high blood pressure is purely related to age and one out of every three adults seems affected with it. However, the doctors have not yet been able to find out the right cause of 90% of such cases. Moreover, high blood pressure has also been regarded as the prime source of mortality and morbidity, as individuals face an increased risk of acquiring a kidney disease, a heart attack or a stroke.
Klas Pettersen, the first author of this story, and a researcher at Norwegian University of Life Sciences, said, “Our results suggest that arterial stiffness represents a major therapeutic target. This is contrary to existing models, which typically explain high blood pressure in terms of defective kidney function.”
When blood pressure moves down the aorta from the heart, a group of cells in the aortic wall, baroreceptors, feel the pressure as the aortic wall stretches and sends signals to the nervous system.
In case the of a high blood pressure, these cells release stronger signals, which helps in lowering the blood pressure. However, as the time passes, the aorta gets harder and stiffer, and the baroreceptors also become insensitive, thus loosing the ability to transmit signals. In this case, the body no longer gets a message of lowering the blood pressure.
Stig W. Omholt, a professor at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and a senior investigator of research project, said, “If our hypothesis is proven right, arterial stiffness and baroreceptor signaling will become hotspot targets for the treatment of high blood pressure and the development of new medicines and medical devices.”
The findings of the study were published in Arterial Stiffening Provides Sufficient Explanation for Primary Hypertension, PLOS Computational Biology.