What is hypertension and what are the risks associated with it?
High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is when the force of the blood that pumps through the arteries is too high for too long! It’s like turning a water hose on high and laying it on the ground in one place. Eventually the ground will shift and change to accommodate the force of the water. In the heart, the chambers will respond to the force by becoming hypertrophied or thickened. This then reduces the efficiency of the heart muscle itself and causes everything below that to shift and change to accommodate the force of the pumping action! When pressure stays high for too long it causes the vessels to stretch and become lax and then the blood isn’t able to move through the vessels with the proper force for protection from stroke and heart attack. To add to the risk, particles of cholesterol can get piled up and then break loose and cause a heart attack or stroke.
This increased pressure can damage the arteries, heart, and kidneys and can lead to stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure. There are many possible causes of hypertension, including
poor diet (one high in sodium and processed foods)
RAS (renal artery stenosis)
and weird things like pheochromocytoma
Thyroid issues can affect blood pressure.
There is so much to consider. While there are often no symptoms in the early stages of hypertension, it is usually discovered during a simple blood pressure check. Treatment typically involves lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, as well as medications to lower blood pressure. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary. Although hypertension is a serious condition, it is often preventable through healthy lifestyle choices.
How can cannabis help to lower blood pressure and improve heart health?
For many people, the idea of using cannabis to improve heart health may seem counterintuitive. After all, cannabis is notorious for causing an increase in heart rate. However, recent research has shown that cannabis can actually help to lower blood pressure and improve heart health. One study found that just a single puff of cannabis lowered blood pressure by up to five points. The researchers believe that this effect is due to the fact that cannabis causes the blood vessels to dilate, which lowers blood pressure. Another study found that regular cannabis use was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The researchers believe that this effect is due to the fact that cannabis helps to reduce inflammation and improve blood sugar control. Taken together, these studies suggest that cannabis can be an effective tool for improving heart health.
What is the advise?
All the research I have reviewed indicates that a controlled regimen of medical cannabis and CBD use is considered relatively safe in terms of heart health.
- If you have heavy use, you may have an increase of blood pressure but it should resolve after use has been discontinued.
- If you have very light use of medicinal cannabis or CBD, you may have transient elevations of blood pressure. I
- f you don’t use cannabis medically but more recreationally and your use is heavy, you may have an initial increase in blood pressure but as you become accustomed to using the plant, you will have a reversal of the elevated pressure by experiencing low blood pressure - hypotension.
- Of course, if your blood pressure stays elevated, stopping cannabis, getting an appointment with your provider for a work up is indicated.
Other things to consider in the setting of HBP are diet, decrease ALL processed foods, eat a diet rich in fresh vegetables, low sugar content fruits and lean meats. If you are a woman in menopause, avoid pork (at least a regular diet of pork). Eating pork occasionally is ok but too much can lead to an estrogen spike and can affect blood pressure.
Also, lastly, I was listening to a health series about parasite infections. The consensus is that we all likely have some sort of parasite because we eat raw foods, sushi, we have pets that sleep in our beds or lick our faces. In the setting of a parasite infection, you could have cardiac related issues along with anxiety, depression, mood disorders, brain fog, sweats, joint pain and more! That is the topic of another conversation