Every 36 seconds in the United States, someone dies from cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men, women, and people of most ethnic backgrounds. Annually, there are more than 630,000 deaths throughout the US due to heart disease, which accounts for nearly 25% of all deaths. In fact, each year heart disease costs the US more than $219 billion in things such as health care services and cost of medicine. 

There is some research that shows the potential benefits medical marijuana can have for those suffering from heart conditions. Our team of Florida Medical Marijuana Physicians can decide if you are eligible for a Florida Medical Marijuana recommendation, which will allow you to legally be able to purchase medical marijuana products from a state approved dispensary. 

Symptoms of Heart Disease

In some cases, heart disease might go undiagnosed until a person experiences symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or arrhythmias. When this occurs, symptoms might include: [1]

  • Chest discomfort: People suffering with heart disease might feel discomfort in the center of their chest. This pain lasts longer than a few minutes, or it might go away and come back.
  • Upper body discomfort: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the neck, jaw, back or stomach.
  • Arrhythmia: This causes palpitations or fluttering feelings in the chest.
  • Heart attack: A heart attack, or a myocardial infarction, occurs when a part of the heart muscle does not get enough blood. Symptoms can include chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, heartburn, fatigue, indigestion, dizziness, and shortness of breath.[1]
  • Heart failure: This can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.
  • Other signs: Other possible signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and discomfort in other areas of the upper body.

Risk Factors of Heart Disease

Several different health conditions, a person’s lifestyle, age, and family history can increase their risk for heart disease. About half of all Americans have at least 1 out of 3 main risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. [2]

The following health conditions can increase ones risk of getting heart disease: [3]

While some of the risk factors cannot be controlled, like age and family history, there are still steps that can be taken to lower the risk factors for heart disease. 

  • Obesity: Obesity is having excess body fat. It is linked to higher bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels and to lower “good” cholesterol levels. Obesity can lead to many health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as heart disease. It is important to maintain a healthy weight to decrease the risk of heart disease.
  • High blood pressure: This is a major risk factor for heart disease. This medical complication happens when the pressure of the blood in the arteries and other blood vessels are too high. If not controlled, high blood pressure can affect both the heart and other major body organs. 
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels: Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is made by the liver or found in certain foods. The liver produces cholesterol at a healthy rate, but people often get more from the food they eat. Excess cholesterol can build up over time in the walls of the arteries, including in the heart. This can lead to narrowing of the arteries which can decrease blood flow throughout the body. 
  • Diabetes mellitus: When your body produces insulin at levels that are either too high or too low, you might be suffering from diabetes. Insulin is used to help move sugar from foods you eat into energy for your body’s cells. Diabetes can cause sugar to build up in the blood, which can increase the risk of heart disease. 

A person’s lifestyle can also increase their risk for heart disease. The following are a few examples of how habits can affect one’s health:

  • Tobacco use: Smoking cigarettes can result in damage to the heart and blood vessels, which increases risk for heart conditions. Nicotine in the tobacco can raise blood pressure and carbon monoxide from the smoke can reduce the amount of oxygen your blood can carry. Even those exposed to secondhand smoke can have an increased risk for heart disease. 
  • Alcohol use: Consuming too much alcohol can increase blood pressure levels and the risk for heart disease. It also increases triglycerides levels which can increase the risk for heart disease. 
  • Poor diet: A diet that is high in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol have been linked to heart disease Too much salt in the diet can also raise blood pressure.
  • Lack of physical activity: Not doing enough physical activity can lead to heart disease. It can also increase the chances of having other medical conditions that are risk factors, including diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Medical Marijuana and Heart Health

Just like the nervous system or the respiratory system, the body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is in charge of regulating all aspects of our body to ensure we are in a homeostatic state. It takes care of simple things such as blood coagulation and regulating body temperature, as well as other more complicated processes. 

Medical marijuana does not directly interact with the cardiovascular system, however some of the functions of the endocannabinoid system can be beneficial to heart health. There are three main ways that medical marijuana could help manage heart conditions: 

  • Reducing inflammation: Inflammation of the heart can cause its cells to become damaged. Certain diseases or infections can cause an increase in inflammation, and if it is left untreated it can result in death. One of the main benefits of taking cannabidiol (CBD), one of the non psychoactive compounds found in cannabis, is its potential to reduce inflammation
  • Minimizing arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat): A heart arrhythmia occurs when the heart either beats too early, fast, slow, or too irregularly. They can often be harmless, but when the heartbeat is super irregular it can pose serious health risks. During studies on rodents, researchers found that CBD could potentially be effective in managing arrhythmias, but there is still more evidence needed to verify this conclusion.
  • Lowering your blood pressure: One of the potential side effects of CBD is lowered blood pressure. CBD appears to expand the blood vessels, allowing for increased blood flow. As a result, damage to the arterial walls is reduced. 

Talk to a Florida Medical Marijuana Doctor First

While there is a lot of promise for the potential benefits medical marijuana can have on heart conditions, it is still important to discuss this with your physician first. Our team of certified Florida Medical Marijuana physicians are located throughout the state and available on nights and weekends for your convenience. If you are interested in seeing if you pre-qualify for a medical marijuana recommendation prior to booking a risk-free appointment, this survey will tell you if you have a state approved condition. 

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/heart_attack.htm

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db103.pdf

[3] cdc.gov/heartdisease/risk_factors.htm

https://www.heart.org/en/news/2020/08/05/heart-risks-of-marijuana-use-need-more-research
https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000883
https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2020/05/01/01/42/cover-story-cannabis-and-cardiovascular-disease-time-for-education