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Hypertension and killer cells: I need a strong immune system for March Madness

Posted Mar 19 2010 11:14am

I’ve had some periods of elevated blood pressure in my life. I’m sure, though, that this time of year, my BP is in real trouble. My Univ. of Northern Iowa Panthers are playing in March Madness, and games like the one last night against UNLV (see clip below) are what jeopardize my health. The Panthers have a great record this year (29-4), but it seems most games come down to the last few minutes. They rarely get a comfortable lead early in the game, so it’s white-knuckle time all the time. And I’m usually racked full of tension on every possession. It’s been this way all season.

That led me to do a little research: Can an out-of-balance, poorly performing immune system contribute to high blood pressure? From what I’ve gleaned so far, immune system deficiencies and hypertension seem to be linked, though I’m not sure if one necessarily leads to another. There may be a reciprocal relationship.

“Changes in serum immunoglobulin levels, alterations in both humoral and cellular immune functions, and inherited abnormalities of the complement system have been identified in patients with essential hypertension.” That from a 1992 study published in the journal Hypertension .

A more recent Emory paper also highlights the connection, and says “T-cell activation may be useful in preventing or treating this disease.”  Another Hypertension journal article points to an “activated immune system as a cause or an effect of the syndrome X”  (also known as metabolic symdrome, which encompasses body mass, blood pressure and blood glucose). I’m reading “activated” as meaning over-reactive, out-of-sync, immune response.

So, my take is that anything I can do to improve and balance my immune response, the better it may be for maintaining healthy blood pressure. Not watching March Madness might help as well.  Not drinking some beer during March Madness might help, too. But that will never happen.

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