New genomic research on cardiovascular health in rural North Carolina

Two genomic-based studies from Heart Healthy Lenoir were published in the last month. Heart Healthy Lenoir was a multidisciplinary research project that aimed to reduce cardiovascular disease in Lenoir County, North Carolina by developing new approaches to care, from prevention to treatment. The lead investigator of the Heart Healthy Lenoir genomics study is Jonathan Schisler, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and McAllister Heart Institute.

Two genomic-based studies from Heart Heathy Lenoir were published in the last month. Heart Healthy Lenoir was a multidisciplinary research project that aimed to reduce cardiovascular disease in Lenoir County, North Carolina by developing new approaches to care, from prevention to treatment. Lenoir County is largely rural and is located in the “stroke belt,” a region of the Southeastern United States that has a rate of death from stroke significantly higher than the rest of the United States. The lead investigator of the Heart Healthy Lenoir genomics study is Dr. Jonathan Schisler, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and McAllister Heart Institute

The first study brought together specialists in nutrition, public health, and genetics to look at how common genetic variation in our taste receptors for bitter taste (such as that found in leafy green vegetables) associates with changes in vegetable intake in a lifestyle intervention designed to promote heart health. Over half of Caucasians, and an even higher percentage of African Americans are sensitive to this bitter taste. The study participants that were non-bitter tasters increased their vegetable consumption more than the bitter tasters, though all participants in the enhanced lifestyle intervention arm increased their vegetable intake. This study may pave the way to dietary interventions that are personalized according to taste preferences.

A second publication highlights how applicable precision medicine regarding hypertension is to rural populations, such as that in the Lenoir County region. Combining experts in health services research, primary care, epidemiology, public health, and genetics, researchers identified which blood pressure-related genetic variants, identified from large clinical studies, were applicable to the study population based in this region. They also identified genetic variants that associated with how well subjects responded to a multi-level intervention developed using community participatory methods to help improve blood pressure control among African American and Caucasians who have hypertension.

~Above excerpted from the full article on SOM Newsroom Vital Signs published May 10. Read the full article here.