Researchers at Queen Mary University London and Imperial College London have identified 535 genes linked to the condition.
The team says a third of the risk is inherited.
Scientists analysed data on one million people.
They found those with the highest genetic score were 3.34 times more likely to develop high blood pressure as the lowest.
Professor Mark Caulfield, of QMUL, said: “This is the most major advance in blood pressure genetics to date.”
A drug used to treat diabetes also targets one of the newly-linked genes, meaning it could potentially offer a lifeline to these patients too.