Does cannabis help or hinder high blood pressure? Let's find out.
The human body is complex. With so many functions happening at once, viruses, conditions, and diseases are more common than not. One of the most common conditions is hypertension, a medical condition characterized by prolonged high blood pressure levels.
High blood pressure levels mean the force exerted by the blood against the blood vessel walls is increased, thus making the heart work harder to pump blood throughout the body. Ongoing stress, diet, kidney disease, and weight are all factors that contribute to prehypertension and hypertension.
Considering the prevalence of high blood pressure (one in three adults), many wonder if cannabis can help or hinder it. Check out our discussion below regarding the effects of cannabis on hypertension.
Medical experts encourage individuals with high blood pressure to avoid smoking. Of course, cigarettes and tobacco are most cautioned against.
Still, studies conducted on cannabis smoking show that blood pressure rises shortly after consumption but then drops to lower levels (hypotension) as the high sets in.
The National Institute of Health reports that “THC inhalation evokes a greater and longer-lasting decrease of arterial blood pressure in hypertensive as compared to normotensive individuals,” meaning smoking weed may decrease blood pressure over a long period of time.
However, a Harvard Medical School study concluded that smoking marijuana increased the risk of heart attack by five times within the first hour of smoking. Interestingly, the risk is comparable with that of sexual activity, which also increases the risk of heart attacks.
Furthermore, greater heart attack risk was only linked by determining which activities were performed within the year leading up to their heart attack. Out of 3,880 men and women, only 124 subjects had smoked within that year, and the risks were also compounded by other contributing factors such as poor diet and being overweight.
Besides the Harvard study, most reports show that although unmanaged hypertension can result in cardiovascular issues such as heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes, cannabis does not seem to increase such risks.
The Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology Journal published a report in 2006 stating that despite the drug’s extreme popularity, reports of cannabis-related stroke and myocardial infarction are rare and still to be reported.
In fact, repeated cannabis use has been linked to lowered blood pressure for many patients. In 2008, NIH backed up their findings when they concluded that pharmacological manipulation of the endocannabinoid system might offer unknown therapeutic approaches in hypertension and ischemic heart disease.
It’s important to note that most studies on marijuana use and hypertension have focused on THC rather than CBD. For some, THC worsens episodes of anxiety and increases the heart rate, which may have some peripheral effects on blood pressure levels. CBD, however, appears to reduce systolic blood pressure in subjects at rest and while stressed.
At the end of the day, a low-sodium diet, an active lifestyle, stress management, and responsible cannabis use might be the keys to keeping blood pressure under control.
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