Can medical marijuana help patients who suffer from symptoms of arteriosclerosis? Read below to find out more. 

What is arteriosclerosis? 

Arteriosclerosis is a vascular disease where the blood vessels carrying oxygen away from the heart become damaged from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or specific genetic factors. The arteries thicken and become stiff, restricting blood flow to other organs. 

Arteriosclerosis shows up in four ways:

  • Coronary artery disease (CAD) – the buildup of plaque inside a coronary artery
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD) – narrowing of the arteries in the legs, arms, or pelvis
  • Carotid artery disease (CAD) – narrowing of the carotid arteries, which carry blood to the head and aorta
  • Aortic aneurysm – abnormal enlargement in the aorta

Signs & Symptoms

Mild cases of arteriosclerosis don’t always have symptoms; however, checkups with a physician or cardiologist are essential. If left untreated, arteriosclerosis can trigger a heart attack or stroke.

Symptoms of Stroke:

  • Confusion or difficulty talking/understanding
  • Dizziness
  • loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache
  • Weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body
  • Vision problems in one or both eyes

Symptoms: of Heart Attack:

  • Mild to severe Chest discomfort
  • Cold sweat
  • Discomfort in the arm, shoulder, or jaw
  • Lightheaded or dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosis & Treatments

If there are symptoms or risk factors for arteriosclerosis, the doctor may order tests, such as:

  • Ankle-brachial index
  • Cardiac imaging tests
  • Cerebral angiography
  • Coronary calcium scan
  • Heart function tests
  • Stress tests

For those diagnosed with coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, or carotid artery disease, there are treatment options available, including the following:

  • Medical therapy uses medications such as aspirin, beta-blockers, or cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • Revascularization therapy includes coronary stenting and coronary bypass surgery

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease when the pancreas no longer makes insulin or the body doesn’t use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows glucose from our food to pass from the bloodstream into the cells to produce energy. All carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the blood and then assisted by insulin to travel to blood cells. 

Being unable to produce insulin or utilize it raises blood glucose levels. Over time, high glucose levels can cause damage to the body and the failure of various organs and cause serious health problems like heart disease, kidney disease, or vision loss. There’s no cure for diabetes, but maintaining weight, eating healthy food, and being active can help manage the condition. 

Does cannabis raise blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Every time your heart beats, it naturally pumps blood into your arteries. Blood pressure is the force of that blood pushing against the artery walls. Per the American Heart Association, our blood pressure is highest when the heart beats. This is called systolic blood pressure. When your heart is resting, your blood pressure falls between beats, known as diastolic pressure.

Studies show that occasional users will experience a mild to moderate increase in blood pressure and heart rate shortly after use, followed by a similar blood pressure reduction. Elevated heart rate and blood pressure occur within fifteen minutes of consumption.

So, marijuana’s effect is not significant or long-term; however, the results of cannabis on blood pressure are dose-dependent, and risks can increase with frequent and long-lasting use. More research is needed to know if smoking marijuana poses the same health risks as smoking tobacco.

Can weed help lower blood pressure? 

Many patients report that the long-term effects of cannabis help them maintain adequate blood pressure levels. Recent research shows that anandamide, the body’s natural version of THC, relaxes blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely to lower blood pressure.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism published a report stating that “endocannabinoids tonically suppress cardiac contractility in hypertension” and “targeting the endocannabinoid system offers novel therapeutic strategies in the treatment of hypertension.”

Does marijuana use cause heart problems? 

Not typically. In fact, it can help. Although smoking has been known to cause blood pressure issues in some individuals. Cannabinoids are found in the cannabis plant and are also produced naturally by our bodies. Humans have an endocannabinoid system that organically produces cannabinoids. These compounds are essential to maintaining internal balance through many different body systems.

Cannabinoids interact with our ECS to help maintain homeostasis through a messenger system of molecules and receptors. Sleep, energy, cardiovascular health, reproduction, stress, chronic pain, motivation, appetite, digestion, and more are some bodily functions that cannabinoids impact.

Last Updated: July 25, 2023

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