Medical researchers are looking into possible genetic factors contributing to high blood pressure.

Scientists say they have discovered a number of DNA 'loci' that affect a person's risk of blood pressure, and heart disease. The results come from an analysis involving 70,000 people, which was further validated with an additional 133,000, according to a report by Genetic Engineering News.

These 'loci' could end up being genetic targets which could be modified by drugs, say findings by international team of researchers publishing in Nature.

Researchers say they have now made "major advances" in understanding the role of DNA in developing heart disease, particularly regarding the rate at which arteries’ blood pressure pushes back on the heart as blood is pumped around the body.

"Our results could help our understanding about the genetic mechanisms underlying relationships of pulse pressure with risk of heart disease and stroke," said Paul Elliott, PhD, according to Genetic Engineering News. Elliot co-authored the the Nature Genetics paper which looked into whether the marker CYP17A1 and others affected the stiffness of one's blood vessels around the body.

In all, 23 points or 'loci' were identified which caused at least some effect on the body. Each variant was found to be present in at least 5 percent of samples.

One potential loci was found to effect the generation of nitrous oxide (NO) or laughing gas within the body. The chemical is involved in processes that open up blood vessels.

Uncovering the genetic basis of this pathway, could open up ways in which the body can one day be targeted with drugs.