Heart Disease Research & CBD
Overview of Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is a term used to classify a variety of diseases related to the heart. Most types of cardiovascular disease, or heart disease as it’s also commonly referred to, are related to atherosclerosis, which is when plaque builds up along the inner walls of the arteries and restricts blood flow.
Other types of cardiovascular disease include heart failure, arrhythmia, heart valve problems and hypertension. Heart failure is when the heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should. Arrhythmia is an abnormal rhythm of the heart. Heart valve problems are when the valves within the heart aren’t opening and closing as they should, allowing blood to flow in the wrong direction. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is when the force of blood against artery walls is too high.
Cardiovascular disease can cause serious complications. If blood flow is severely or fully restricted to the heart, a heart attack occurs and the part of the heart that receives blood will die. If blood flow is severely or fully restricted to the brain, a stroke occurs and brain cells will die. Both events are life threatening. Blood flow restriction to the extremities, most commonly the legs, can cause peripheral artery disease and pain when walking.
Preventing or reducing atherosclerosis by exercising regularly, eating healthy, achieving a healthy body weight and the cessation of smoking, reduces the risk of heart disease.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Cardiovascular Disease
Evidence suggests that cannabis can limits cell damage and offer cardioprotection and neuroprotection following ischemic events like heart attacks and strokes. One study found that very low doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) administered 2 hours, 48 hours, or 3 weeks continuously prior to heart attack reduced infarct size, therefore limiting heart damage11.
More recently, a study examining records of hospitalized patients found that recent marijuana use reduced mortality rate and the risk of intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) placement and shock following a heart attack2. The study findings suggest that marijuana use before a heart attack may improve survival rate while in the hospital2.
In both animal and human studies, cannabinoids have been found to cause blood vessels to vasodilate, improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure4,9. Cannabinoids have also shown to elicit vasodilation, which in turn has been shown to help normalize blood pressure1.
It’s important to note that in other studies, cannabis use has been found to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular complications1. Smoking marijuana increases heart rate and