Hypertension or high blood pressure is a huge risk factor for coronary heart disease and ischemic including hemorrhagic stroke. According to data released in 2017, hypertension or high blood pressure affects nearly 3 in 10 Indians and is responsible for 17.5% of all deaths in India.
It has been learnt that hypertension is also the fourth-leading risk factor for death and disability and responsible for over 1.6 million deaths in the country according to the Global Burden of Disease data collated by the Washington-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
In a bid to put a full stop to this and to save millions of lives, researchers at IIT Madras discovered a new connection between a specific tissue-remodelling enzyme dubbed MMP7 and risk of hypertension in the heart.
According to IIT Madras researchers, (as reported first by IANS), Matrix Metalloproteinases are responsible for such remodelling of the heart that leads to hypertension. This causes some changes structurally and mechanically to push blood into the blood vessels, which in turn leads to an elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Matrix Metalloproteinases have been amalgamated with the degradation of extracellular matrix proteins, during the process of regular tissue growth. They also help in wound healing, tissue repair.
It is said that MMP7 enzyme is known to increase in cases of hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and even diabetes mellitus. Previous studies disclosed that eliminating MMP7 gene can cut down hypertension in rats.
Nonetheless, researchers have still not been able to find a clear-cut connection between the MMP7 gene and hypertension so far.
A research team ran an analysis and studied the association of MMP7 gene promoter with hypertension in people living in North and South of India.
It was observed that a change in the regulatory region of MMP7 gene disclosed a strong association with hypertension risk.
According to study researcher, Professor Nitish Mahapatra, IIT Madras, “This study helps us better understand the role of variations and functional regulatory changes in MMP7 gene promoter in increasing risk of cardiovascular disease among individuals.”
He went on to add saying: “This understanding will help us embark on preventive strategies for individuals carrying the variation that could lead to hypertension and related cardiovascular complications.”