Cannabis has been used as a medicine for centuries to reduce pain and as an alternative treatment for a host of diseases. But could the effects of cannabis lower blood pressure?
Could marijuana cause heart failure in patients susceptible to lower blood pressure? What about an increased risk of stroke?
Simply put, we need a lot more research. But the benefits seem to outweigh the risk, especially for people who need a drug that's not so harsh on their body.
This article will discuss some common questions about the effects of marijuana on your blood pressure and what you should know before using medical cannabis as a treatment for hypertension.
High Blood Pressure & Heavy Marijuana Use
Medical marijuana is also known to have effects on the cardiovascular system, but many people wonder if it does anything that could impact blood pressure levels.
According to a study published in 2020 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, at this point, over two million Americans with heart disease are using or have used marijuana. Robert A. Kloner, MD, the chief science officer at Huntington Medical Research Institutes in southern California, says this is risky.
If you have a medical condition like hypertension or have had a myocardial infarction, it's best to monitor how marijuana impacts your condition. You might want to try other methods of consumption to determine whether those are a risk to your health, too.
The potential effects of cannabis on blood pressure observed across various studies show us that this drug doesn't cause high blood pressure on its own. Other factors, such as physical inactivity, obesity, and other preexisting conditions make people more susceptible to stroke, heart attack, hypertension, and more.
Systolic blood pressure is a concern for anyone worried about high blood pressure and heart problems. But the effects of cannabis and whether it definitely will increase blood pressure aren't fully known just yet.
We need a better understanding about the long term effects, as well as the short term impact on healthy people.
But what about smoking cannabis? Does this make people more susceptible to "the silent killer?"
Risk Factors for Blood Pressure Issues Related to Cannabis Use
Cannabis users who have experienced suddenly high blood pressure or have had a heart attack need to watch their diastolic blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure is especially dangerous for people with cardiovascular disease, and smoking tobacco is a major risk factor.
What are some other risk factors?
Weight gain poses the same risks to the circulatory system. Developing hypertension can result from increases in weight, and while marijuana can bring bouts of increased appetite, marijuana use is not directly associated with high blood pressure.
Does marijuana cause high blood pressure?
Could marijuana affect blood pressure? Could this result in a heart attack?
To offer a full synopsis of this question, we must outline the effects of the two main cannabinoids in cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
CBD and THC both impact hypertension. But how?
CBD is believed to reduce blood pressure by blocking levels of endocannabinoid. These chemicals are naturally produced in the body and stimulate a response from cannabinoid receptors. And while CBD can reduce inflammation that is damaging for blood vessels, vital organs, and arteries, it's important to note that topical CBD application will impact you differently than smoking a joint.
THC has many effects on the cardiovascular system, including increase your heart rate and reducing your blood volume. With this in mind, evidence suggests that smoking THC can directly or indirectly cause a heart attack.
In the 2019 study published in the Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association titled "The Cardiovascular Effects of Marijuana: Are the Potential Adverse Effects Worth the High?" the researchers highlight that some experience a heart attack within just one hour of smoking marijuana.
However, many of these patients had other risk factors, such as tobacco smoking, drinking alcohol, and poor diet. This makes it challenging to conclude cannabis was the culprit.
Without tracking subject tobacco and alcohol consumption and body fat composition, it's impossible to know whether smoking cannabis is the issue.
Furthermore, the medical marijuana used for this study wasn't derived from a registered dispensary. Thus, without lab testing, we don't know what compounds were present in what the subjects were smoking.
At this point, studies show an unproven relation between smoking weed and heart attacks. With this being the case, more research is essential.
But does marijuana affect blood pressure?
Yes, but exactly how medical marijuana will impact blood pressure is still a topic demanding more research. Every impact on patient health revolves around the patient's existing health problems.
A healthy person may find marijuana lowers their blood pressure. But for someone with heart issues, it could have the opposite effect and increase one's blood pressure.
What are some side effects of marijuana on my heart rate?
THC can impact blood pressure. But ultimately, it depends on the dose, how it's administered, the person's tolerance, and underlying health conditions.
In healthy study participants, THC increases heart rate and decreases blood pressure. During studies that involve subjects laying down while taking THC, they experienced elevated blood pressure. However, after standing, the subjects' blood pressure dropped and low blood pressure resulted.
Sudden drops in blood pressure might be connected to using cannabis. This is commonly called white-outs or green-outs. In essence, it's possible that blood pressure decreases while standing, also called postural hypotension, can result from cannabis use.
Quick decreases in blood pressure aren't desirable because this can result in vertigo or fainting. So while cannabis use could lower blood pressure, it's not a health benefit because it could cause serious problems if the patient is not careful.
While many CBD oils contain trace levels of THC, these products don't have the same impact as smoking a marijuana strain that's high in THC. Studies show that THC can result in issues regarding cardiovascular health. However, CBD might be beneficial for heart health.
CBD seems somewhat cardioprotective. In a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the researchers claimed CBD may be therapeutic for treating diabetes complications, along with several cardiovascular disorders.
Will I need to stop taking my other medications when I start using medical cannabis?
Could blood pressure medication interact with cannabis? If you're a patient smoking high-THC cannabis flower and use medications to handle high blood pressure, you might need to stop.
Since cannabis smoke has carbon monoxide, it can be problematic for people with heart disease or hypertension. This gas binds to hemoglobin found in the red blood cells, and this removes oxygen from the red blood cells. With the decrease in oxygen being sent to the body's vital organs, this can be especially problematic for the heart. This is why people who have heart disease or high blood pressure shouldn't smoke.
However, other safer cannabis consumption options exist. Sublingual tinctures and edibles are the preferred methods for people on blood pressure medication.
If you're taking other prescription medications, it's equally crucial to consider how they will react with medical cannabis. Monitor your blood pressure and report dizziness to your doctor. The solution might be as simple as a dosage adjustment.
Blood thinner has certainly been observed to interact with CBD in some epileptic patients. Thus, it's ideal to conduct patient lab work and monitor it for any deviations if taking CBD and this medicine.
In some cases, other medications have the potential to interact with cannabis and cannabis-derived cannabinoids. In a 2017 study, the scientists analyzed people with epilepsy. Who's to say what would have happened if the study participants weren't epileptic?
Concluding on Cannabis and Blood Pressure
The impact of cannabis on blood pressure has been studied. However, this research is quite limited, demanding more cannabis research to determine the acute effects of cannabis on heart rate and blood pressure.
While the long term effects are still unknown, some researchers have been making a lot of progress learning about the nervous system, hypertension, and other aspects of how this drug could potentially be problematic for patients.
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