The discovery of a new gene variant by an EU-funded research team opens the way to improved treatment for high blood pressure sufferers, the European Commission said.
"I congratulate all those involved in this excellent work," said Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, the commissioner for research, innovation and science.
A Commission statement said one adult in four in the EU suffers from high blood pressure which, as the most important cardio-vascular risk factor, is ultimately the leading cause of death worldwide.
The new gene variant lowers the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease as people carrying the variant were found to have 15% fewer strokes, myocardial infarctions and coronary deaths, the Commission said.
The discovery was the result of a genetic study involving 40,000 people from eight European countries, led by the University of Glasgow and Istituto Auxologico Italiano of Milan, and funded to the tune of 10 million euros (about R97 million) by the European Union.
Results are published in the Public Library of Science Genetics open-source journal.
(Sapa, November 2010)