MCG study is extended

An institute at the Medical College of Georgia is getting a major grant to continue its work on how some adolescents develop the beginnings of high blood pressure.

The Georgia Prevention Institute was recently awarded a $10.5 million, five-year extension of its program project grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The institute had received a similar grant in 2003 to study the precursors of hypertension in young people.

Building from those findings, the institute will have two human and two animal studies that will mirror each other, Director Gregory Harshfield said.

About one-third of black Americans have high blood pressure because they retain more sodium, causing them to retain more fluid, Dr. Harshfield said.

"The blood pressure is up for a different reason," he said. "Once that happens, it takes a lot longer to bring it down."

The institute will look at using drugs, such as an angiotensin receptor blocker, as a way of lowering it. An animal study in rats will also look at these findings.

Another human study will look at how certain hormones might be more intensely affected by stress and cause hypertension over time, with a corresponding study in rats, Dr. Harshfield said.

"And obesity is a factor in each one of them," he said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.