According to the National Institute of Health, as many as 1 in 3 American adults have high blood pressure (i.e. hypertension), making it a common condition. Half of those with high blood pressure haven’t taken steps to improve their health and are at risk of heart failure. Hypertension is known as the “silent killer” because slow, gradual increases in blood pressure levels, over time, substantially increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of death amongst people over the age of 50, even though it is treatable. When managed in the short term, a person with previously high blood pressure readings can have a good life expectancy and healthier life over the long term.
The modern, Western lifestyle is one of the top contributors to the increased rate of people with high blood pressure. Poor diet, lack of exercise, drugs, tobacco and drinking, diabetes, and obesity all increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. The easy availability of high fat, high salt, and high sugar foods contribute to poor diets. Modern, corporate jobs often involve sitting around for extended periods. Humans are living increasingly stressful lives. All of these factors increase risk of high blood pressure.
In order to treat high blood pressure, it is essential to address the lifestyle and medical causes. Although a person may not be able to easily change their job, they could exercise more and eat healthier foods. If it pertains, he most obvious choice is to quit smoking.
There is plenty of good advice and data available to the public on reducing high blood pressure but many, if not most, are not following it. Guilt tripping people into dieting or monitoring their health and illnesses is proven not to work and just heighten their stress. The best method of support is to address the condition positively and find proactive ways to move forward.
Because it is hard to prevent and manage diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, with busy work and personal lives, many people have resorted to using prescribed drugs. Warfarin, beta blockers, and a host of other drugs are administered to millions of people every day for lowering blood pressure.
There have been recent debates in the scientific and medical communities about how effective these medicines are; the ethics of medically treating a condition that could be treated through lifestyle changes; and whether the medicines’ side effects are worth the risk. Overall, the consensus on beta blockers and warfarin seem to be that they are worth taking if a doctor has prescribed them.
It is definitely worth considering the possible benefits of these drugs, however. beta blockers work by blocking epinephrine, or adrenaline, a hormone that is vital to a healthy functioning body. The side effects can be severe, from chronic fatigue, weight gain, to depression, and insomnia. The medicine can also can trigger asthma attacks.
High blood pressure has very few warning signs, so it is recommended that everyone above the age of 40 have a regular health check-up to get their blood pressure measured. It can also be measured at home using self-testing kits, but a qualified nurse or doctor will be able to perform the measurements more reliably and, if you have high blood pressure, point you in the right direction for treatment.
Testing for high blood pressure is non-invasive, painless, and quick. It is one of the easiest ways to assess your overall health. The consequences of not getting tested can be fatal; whereas, if you get tested and deal with the problem promptly, you should be fine.
Cannabis for High Blood Pressure
In recent years, addressing high blood pressure with CBD has attracted attention from the scientific community. Because cannabis was prohibited in much of the world, particularly the West, governments erroneously deemed the drug had “no medicinal value.”
Thankfully, the repeated demonstrations of the safety of the drug and the ineffectiveness of prohibition are finally starting to make waves with legislators. Dozens of U.S. states have legalized cannabis for medicinal use, and some for recreational use as well. In Europe, there is a similar trend towards legalizing medicinal cannabis.
This is hopeful for people who are looking for alternative treatments for their hypertension with less extreme side effects.
The Current Extent of Knowledge
What is currently known about cannabis use in addressing high blood pressure could fit in a pamphlet. This is dispiriting and potentially dangerous for people who want full information to make informed choices about their ideal treatment. With conditions as dangerous as high blood pressure, it is essential to know exactly what you are taking and how it’ll impact your body.
Cannabis has a long-established safety record. It has been used for thousands of years to produce clothes, food, and medicine. It is known to be highly tolerable, non-addictive, and have low to no health risk. When side effects do occur, they are usually mild and quickly become tolerable with regular use.
The case for medical cannabis legalization is still being fought, but small progress continues to be made as people push for fact to be held above stigma.
Effects of Marijuana on Hypertension
Medical marijuana use on high blood pressure has only recently been researched and to a relatively shallow degree. The psychoactive and medicinal effects of cannabis impact the endocannabinoid system, a relative of the cardiovascular system.
One chemical in cannabis being researched as an effective drug for a variety of conditions is CBD. It is found naturally in cannabis and can be isolated from the plant to form an easily used oil. When scientists investigated CBD, they found “that acute administration of CBD reduces resting BP [blood pressure] and…stress in humans.”
A health problem like hypertension is multifaceted. CBD has been found to help the cardiovascular system by protecting blood cells, blood vessels, heart cells and against the effects of diabetes (one of the causes of high blood pressure). More research is being conducted, particularly by the Harvard Medical School, but for the moment all a patient can do is experiment with the possible benefits of CBD.
One study that stood out found that “cannabis use was associated with increase in systolic blood pressure” (the pumping stage of the heart beat) but “no association between cannabis use and diastolic blood pressure was detected.” This indicates that cannabis can increase heart rate and systolic blood pressure in some but overall lowers resting blood pressure.
Smoking marijuana causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, so if you are thinking of taking cannabis for hypertension, you should eat or vaporize the drug. You should use CBD and medical cannabis only in consultation with your doctor and if and when it is legal in your state.