High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition that affects 1 in every 3 adults in the United States. Although hypertension typically has no signs or symptoms, it can lead to serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure. There are many different conditions that can contribute to the development of hypertension, including kidney, adrenal, and thyroid disorders, sleep apnea, and the use of certain medications and illegal substances. However, for the majority of people with hypertension, there is no identifiable cause, which leads to a diagnosis of essential or primary hypertension. Recent evidence suggests that essential hypertension may be caused by an autoimmune response that leads to changes in vascular and kidney function. Researchers found that oxidative stress and inflammation promoted an exaggerated immune response, which ultimately lead to the development of high blood pressure. I was fascinated by this study because I have never heard of the role of the immune system in hypertension discussed in conventional health care. Nurses and other health care providers are taught that there isn't much that can be done to treat high blood pressure beyond medication and vague diet and exercise recommendations. Conventional dietary advice for hypertension includes following a low salt diet, which the evidence does not support.
A quick search of the literature revealed that this is not the first study that has suggested that essential hypertension is an autoimmune disease. Over the last 15 years or so, there have been numerous studies demonstrating the role of the immune system in regulation of blood pressure and the development of hypertension when the immune system regulation goes awry. If you are interested in reading summaries of this research, check out the following reviews:
The implications of hypertension being an autoimmune disease are huge! Of course, finding the triggers of the autoimmune response is key. Many in the Paleo community recognize the role of food sensitivities in serving as a trigger of autoimmunity and contributing to autoimmune disease symptoms. Following the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) has helped countless individuals to place their autoimmune disease into remission, including myself. Are there any readers that have been able to control their high blood pressure with the help of the AIP? I'd love to hear from you!