American Heart Month: Does Cannabis Play a Role in Heart Health?
There is a growing trend of health consciousness in the United States, which is a great thing, because individual health has never been more important. For many people, this year may have been the first time they seriously looked into health science and one of the first areas they may have studied is heart health. It makes sense, the heart is one of the most important organs in the body and the circulatory system works as a great starting point before branching out into other parts of the body. What many people may not know, however, is how marijuana can impact the heart and what that means for users. If you, or someone you know, is looking for affordable Ohio medical marijuana recommendations, DocMJ is here to help! We can easily be reached at our website where you can find answers to frequently asked questions, more information about medical marijuana and your health, and an eligibility survey which can tell you if you may instantly pre-qualify for a recommendation!
An Introduction to Heart Health
The heart is the engine of the body. Most people, when asked, will be able to describe the circulatory function of the heart, but how it relates to overall health is a difficult question no matter who you are. To start simply, the circulatory system can be thought of as a road network that connects all parts of the body. Everything from nutrients to hormones to oxygen uses this road system to move around, and the heart is responsible for moving all of this through a network estimated to be over 60,000 miles long.
However, the heart also has a second, equally important function as an endocrine organ. Despite working full time as the primary circulatory pump, the heart pulls double duty and actually also helps modulate blood volume and pressure. If the heart senses atrial stretch, a hormone called atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) is released. ANP works to reduce blood volume and pressure by vasodilation and water elimination.
To pivot a bit, in the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death of both men and women. It accounts for a quarter of all deaths and is so common, that a person in the US dies every thirty six seconds . Despite this, things are actually better now than in the not-too-distant past, as deaths from heart disease are far lower than even sixty years ago. In fact, heart disease deaths are down about sixty percent from their peak in the 1960’s . This is largely due to advancement in treatments, screening tools, and society’s overall increased interest in health.
Does Marijuana Affect Heart Health?
Marijuana affects many systems and parts of our bodies, and often in many ways. For example, CBD has been found in many studies to help reduce anxiety and ease feelings of stress, THC, on the other hand, may increase both of these feelings in some people. Both are common constituents of marijuana, and both have many other useful effects that people may find beneficial depending on their situation. Some people may use marijuana as an appetite stimulant, but find that the high-THC strains commonly used to increase hunger cause other side effects, and so must carefully weigh the pros and cons of using it. This same “double-edged” sword effect can be said for marijuana’s effect on the heart, which may surprise some people. Many people assume that marijuana would have only negative effects on the heart, but recent research has found this not to be completely true.
To start, a large part of the danger of heart disease is that there are many factors that contribute to it. Diet, genetics, environment, and even stress can all play a part in developing heart disease. It was found that low THC/high CBD strains of marijuana significantly reduced ratings of depression, anxiety, and stress, three things that have been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular problems and lower health . Several cannabinoids have also been found to be potent antioxidants  and may help lower the number of free radicals in the body, which can also help lower a person’s risk of heart disease .
This is not to say that all studies have had positive findings, though. As with most things, there are some possible negative effects that marijuana can have, especially for those already at an elevated risk of developing cardiovascular problems. One study in particular outlines these possibilities very well. The paper points out research showing possible platelet aggregation caused by marijuana use, with secondary vasospasms and blood vessel hardening, more factors that increase the risk of heart disease . Other studies have also found marijuana to possibly cause vascular inflammation, with vascular health improving after smoking cessation.
Overall, research is still being done on the effects of marijuana on the heart and cardiovascular system as a whole, and the entirety of its effects are still not known. Researchers are still split on whether marijuana should be used by people with, or at risk of developing, cardiac problems, so it is important to speak with a certified physician before starting or modifying any part of an established medical routine.
The heart is one of the most important organs in the body. It not is the main engine of the cardiovascular system, but its endocrine features also help reduce blood pressure and volume. Heart disease is the number killer in the US, but overall numbers are down from decades past. Marijuana may be able to help fight certain environmental factors of heart disease, but some research indicates it may also have negative effects on the heart itself. If you are interested in medical marijuana, and want to speak with a certified physician, DocMJ can help! We offer online bookings, informative articles, and an easy survey where you can find out if you prequalify for an Ohio medical marijuana recommendation instantly!