White blood cell (WBC) count is considered a biomarker of the inflammatory processes that result from vascular injury that actively contributes to the development of cardiovascular diseases, precisely hypertension. The positive role of exercise in the management of hypertension has long been established. However, the relationship between WBC count and hypertensive management, particularly in a non pharmacological technique seems ambiguous and unclear. The main purpose of the present study is to determine the effect of a continuous training programme on WBC count in male African subjects with essential hypertension. Two hundred and seventeen male patients with mild to moderate systolic blood pressure [SBP] and diastolic blood pressure [DBP] essential hypertension were age matched and grouped into experimental and control groups. The experimental group took part in an 8 week interval training (35-59% HR max reserve) programme of between 45 minutes to 60 minutes, while the control hypertensive group did not receive any exercise training during this period. Cardiovascular parameters (SBP, DBP & VO2max) and WBC count were assessed. A students’ t-test and Pearson correlation tests were used in data analysis. The findings revealed a significant decrease in WBC count, VO2 max, SBP, and DBP after a continuous training programme. Also the WBC count was inversely related to VO2max. The study concluded that a continuous training programme could be included in the management of hypertension and that the therapeutic effect of continuous exercise may be mediated through the suppression of inflammatory (WBC count) reaction.
Key words: Hypertension, exercise, inflammation, white blood cell, Black Africa