Reducing Hypertension With Cannabis

Nearly one-third of American adults have high blood pressure, or
hypertension. According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention,
about 70% of
these people take medication to treat their hypertension. Medical
marijuana may be a new source of medication for people suffering from
Hypertension.

Hypertension Facts

Hypertension means that the pressure exerted by the blood in the
arteries, leading away from the heart, is higher than normal. A normal
blood pressure measurement is 120/80 mm Hg or lower. The first number is
the systolic pressure and refers to the pressure when the heart
contracts. The second number is the diastolic pressure and is a measure
of the pressure in the arteries when the heart relaxes.

High blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure that is 140 mm Hg
or higher and diastolic pressure is 90 mm Hg or higher. Blood pressure
that lies between 120-139 mm Hg systolic and 80-89 mm Hg diastolic is
considered prehypertension.

The most common type of hypertension is essential hypertension, and it
is found in about [95
percent](http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/101/3/329.long# T1) of all
patients with hypertension. Essential hypertension means there is no
identifiable physiological cause. Risk factors for essential
hypertension include:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Age 65 and older
  • Prehypertension

Hypertension is often called the silent
killer
, as it has no
prominent symptoms, but increases risk of heart disease, stroke and
kidney disease.

Endocannabinoids and Hypertension

The cannabinoid system plays a role in the cardiovascular system,
including lowering blood
pressure
. In a
review article
of numerous studies on the relationship between the endocannabinoid
system and the cardiovascular system, the authors concluded
endocannabinoids help control blood pressure in conditions that cause an
extreme drop in blood pressure, such as internal bleeding, and in cases
of hypertension.

Treating Hypertension

Many medications are available to treat hypertension. Most are
successful at controlling blood pressure, and all have some side
effects. Medications include:

  • Diuretics
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers
  • Beta blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Renin inhibitors

Another option is cannabis, research shows that cannabis use for
hypertension can slightly decrease blood
pressure
. When standing
from a sitting position, a person taking cannabis may experience a drop
in blood pressure that can result in light-headedness. People should be
careful if combining cannabis with other prescription medications taken
for hypertension.

Research also shows that stopping cannabis abruptly after long use can
cause a rebound increase in blood
pressure
. The
researchers recommend tapering off, rather than suddenly withdrawing,
from cannabis to prevent this effect.

Photo Credit.

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