Conventional Medical Thinking: Hypertension is idiopathic (cause unknown), identified when a person’s measured blood pressure is higher than desirable (using criteria from the American College of Cardiology). Hypertension is seen as a “risk factor” for other heart disease and other vascular diseases.
Systems Biology Thinking: Hypertension is one phase of inflammatory vascular disease, resulting from inflammatory infiltration of lining of arteries, resulting in stiffening and narrowing. Systems Biology research points to hyperarousal of the deep brain as an instigating factor.
Trauma-Health Equity-Neurobiology Lens – Severity of Hypertension correlates with severity of adverse experiences, especially experience of Everyday Discrimination. In the USA, black men are particularly at risk. Research has shown that transition from normal blood pressure to hypertension in black boys can start at age 8.
Moody (2018) Everyday Discrimination Prospectively Predicts Blood Pressure Across 10 Years in Racially/Ethnically Diverse Midlife Women. Ann Behavior Med. Exposure to Everyday Discrimination predicts systolic and diastolic blood pressure, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Hardy ST, et al. Heterogeneity in Blood Pressure Transitions Over the Life Course: Age-Specific Emergence of Racial/Ethnic and Sex Disparities in the United States. JAMA Cardiology. June 2017. Tracked blood pressure readings in 17,000 people. Found that young black men had twice the risk of hypertension compared to white youth. Transition from normal blood pressure to hypertension in black youth started at age 8.
Rodriguez-Iturbe B et al. Role of the Immune System in Hypertension. Physiol Rev. 2017. Updated review of physiology underlying hypertension: infiltration of immune cells, oxidative stress, and stimulation of angiotensin system, vascular relaxation, and over-reactivity of sympathetic nervous system.
Solak Y, Afsar B, Vaziri ND, et al. Hypertension as an autoimmune and inflammatory disease. Hypertension Research (2016). Developments in the pathophysiology of hypertension with a focus on the oxidant stress-autoimmunity-inflammation interaction.
Carnevale D and Lembo G. Immunological Aspects of Hypertension. High Blood Press Cardiovasc Prev 2016
McMaster et.al. Inflammation, Immunity and Hypertensive End-Organ Damage. Circ Res 2015.
Mathis KW et.al. Autoimmunity: An underlying factor in the pathogenesis of hypertension. Curr Hypertens Rep 2014.
Tomfohr L et.al. Everyday Discrimination and Nocturnal Blood Pressure Dipping in Black and White Americans. Psychosom Med 2010.