Department of Health and Human Services. “Your Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure.” May 2003. Accessed November 15, 2020.
Many people with high blood pressure do not have symptoms, which is why the condition is often referred to as a “silent killer.” Whether symptoms are present or not, high blood pressure significantly increases your risk of future medical conditions.
Blood pressure refers to the force of blood in your arteries as it is pumped by your heart. A blood pressure reading consists of two stacked numbers. The top number is your systolic blood pressure, which is the amount of pressure when your heart is contracting. The lower number is diastolic blood pressure, which is the pressure between heartbeats. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower.
Little research exists about the impact of marijuana on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. One large study found no link between marijuana and cardiovascular disease. However, other studies found that chest pain occurred sooner in people exposed to marijuana and that the drug may increase the risk of a heart attack.
Food and Drug Administration. “Understanding the Silent Killer.” August 2, 2016. Accessed November 15, 2020.
Marijuana can also affect your blood pressure indirectly. For example, marijuana may increase someone’s appetite. It may also cause them to make dietary choices that increase blood pressure, such as eating salty foods more often. Further, a poor diet from an increased appetite can cause weight gain — another risk factor for high blood pressure.
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Can people without these conditions safely indulge in marijuana? A healthy individual’s body may appear as a well-oiled machine, but Bone disputes that analogy, pointing out that, “Unlike a car, where we replace the brakes or tires, the heart never gets a vacation and the blood vessels need to keep working forever. And the nervous system, which directs the show like a conductor, is on duty 24/7.”
People who use cannabis and are on blood pressure medications need to be mindful of the possibility of an interaction with other prescription medications. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Bone, however, argued, “On careful study, many of the patients also smoked cigarettes and were obese, making it hard to draw absolute conclusions. Also, the observations were made on cannabis of unknown origin, not cannabis from a dispensary.” The fact that the cannabis did not come from a registered dispensary is significant, as there is no available lab testing to determine what other compounds may have been present.
“THC can affect blood pressure depending on the dose, the route of administration, a person’s experience with THC, and a person’s underlying health. Healthy volunteers that took THC had an increase in heart rate and decrease in blood pressure. In studies where people used THC while lying down, they had elevated blood pressure. When they stood up, their blood pressure dropped and they experienced low blood pressure.”
While it is possible for warfarin and other medications to interact with cannabis, there are no guarantees, and the 2017 study focused on patients with epilepsy rather than on the general population. As Dr. Bone reported, “In my private practice, I have not encountered a significant negative interaction between blood pressure medication and cannabis.”
And how does CBD affect blood pressure? The consensus is that CBD tends to relax the blood vessels and decrease anxiety, which ultimately leads to a lowering of blood pressure. This type of blood pressure reduction is more favorable, as it is associated with decreased levels of anxiety. Both THC and CBD may lower blood pressure in different ways. However, based on available research, neither CBD nor THC should be considered a medical treatment for high blood pressure.
To answer this question, we should focus on two of the primary cannabinoids present in cannabis : cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Both may exert an influence on blood pressure levels.
“This new study is one of several that has been published recently by BGU on the medicinal benefits of cannabis,” concluded Seserman.
The BGU researchers theorised that the relief from pain, the indication for prescription cannabis in most patients, may also have contributed to a reduction in blood pressure.
Patients were evaluated using 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, ECG, blood tests, and body measurements — both before and three months after initiating cannabis therapy.
The study, published in the ‘European Journal of Internal Medicine’, is the first of its kind to focus on the effect of cannabis on blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolic parameters in adults 60 and above with hypertension.
“Cannabis research is in its early stages and BGU is at the forefront of evaluating clinical use based on scientific studies,” said Doug Seserman, chief executive officer of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
“Older adults are the fastest-growing group of medical cannabis users, yet evidence on cardiovascular safety for this population is scarce,” said Dr Ran Abuhasira of the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences, one of Israel’s leading medical faculties, and the BGU-Soroka Cannabis Clinical Research Institute.
The findings of a new study by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and its affiliated Soroka University Medical Center, suggests that medical cannabis may help in reducing blood pressure in older adults.