Hypertension Risk Influenced Before Birth?

The Physicians Committee

Hypertension Risk Influenced Before Birth?

January 9, 2003

Today's New England Journal of Medicine reports autopsy findings suggesting that hypertensive adults have fewer glomeruli (filter units) in their kidneys, compared to those without hypertension. The median numbers of glomeruli per kidney were 702,379 and 1,429,200, respectively. While hypertension can lead to kidney damage, the researchers suggested the reverse process: Because they found few obsolescent glomeruli, it appeared that the hypertensive individuals had been born with reduced kidney function, which may have contributed to their risk of developing high blood pressure later in life.

Keller G, Zimmer G, Mall G, Ritz E, Amann K. Nephron number in patients with primary hypertension. N Engl J Med. 2003;348:101-108.

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