• heritability;
  • family studies;
  • blood pressure


A probabilistic sample representative of the adult population of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, was studied to estimate the genetic and nongenetic determinants of blood pressure. Four thousand five hundred and sixty-five individuals, 20 to 74 years old, from 2050 households, were examined. The genetic determination of the SBP (systolic blood pressure) and DBP (diastolic blood pressure) was evaluated in 557 families extracted from this sample. The analysis was performed first with no adjustments for other influencing factors, and then adjusting for the effects of the two significant covariates, age and Quetelel's index, identified through a multiple stepwise regression analysis with nine independent variables. Higher heritability estimates were obtained for DBP (raw data: 0.40; residuals: 0.45) than for SBP (raw data: 0.22; residuals: 0.26). The significant correlation coefficients varied from 0.13 (for father–offspring raw data, total sample), to 0.36 (for siblings, adjusted data, untreated sample). Slight differences were observed between the total and pharmacologically untreated samples in relation to correlation and heritability estimates.