Today we celebrate World Heart Day.

Currently, we’re living in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on healthcare professionals, national healthcare systems and our individual responsibilities – for our own health and for the vulnerable in society.

Cardiovascular disorders, which refer to the heart and blood vessels’ defects, are the leading cause of mortality among Australians. Over 1 million Australians are currently living with a cardiovascular condition [1]. This World Heart Day let’s remind ourselves to live and eat healthier for our hearts.

 

 

The World Heart Federation stand by the saying ‘Use Heart’. Use Heart is about:

  1. Using your head to understand what it takes to live a heart healthy life.

 

  1. Using your influence as an individual to set an example for your loved ones, as an employer to invest in the heart health of your employees, as a healthcare professional to help your patients make positive changes for their heart health and as a government to implement initiatives and policies that will improve better societal heart health, this includes sugar taxes, smoking bans and reducing air pollution.

 

  1. Using your compassion to look beyond yourself and act in ways that support the most vulnerable in society; those with underlying heart-related conditions that may put them at greater risk in the time of COVID-19.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death globally. It has many causes: from diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and obesity, to air pollution, and rare and neglected conditions such as Chagas Disease and cardiac amyloidosis.

What are cardiovascular disorders?

Common cardiovascular disorders, which cause 27% of Australian death, refer to the following conditions [1]:

Coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis

Coronary heart disease or CHD refers to a blockage of the coronary arteries (blood vessels that wrap around the heart muscle), leading to a disruption in the heart’s blood supply. When untreated, CHD increases the risk of a heart attack.

Atherosclerosis is a blockage in the coronary arteries that stems from several factors such as inactivity, obesity, smoking, eating unhealthy, and so on.

 

Stroke

A stroke occurs when the brain’s blood supply is disrupted. It’s a medical emergency because it could lead to death or a lifelong disability.

 

Peripheral vascular disease

Peripheral vascular disease is a case of atherosclerosis condition of the arteries outside the heart and brain. The peripheral vascular disease mostly occurs in the arteries near the legs and feet.

 

Childhood heart disease

Childhood heart disease refers to heart defects acquired during infancy or childhood. Genetics and the mother’s condition during pregnancy are some of the common causes of this condition.

 

What is the role of Cannabis in cardiovascular disorders?

 

Thanks to the few published data suggesting that Cannabis has some benefits to cardiovascular disorders, Cannabis’s role in cardiovascular health ranged from 0 to “considered.”

Positive-oriented data mostly refers to the indirect effects of Cannabis, showing that the plant can somehow modulate the common cardiovascular disorder risk factors. For example, in the preliminary data from a 2013 study, they suggested that CBD or cannabidiol-treated (a Cannabis compound) participants had a 40% reduction in their smoking frequency [2].\

Some epidemiologic studies showed a low prevalence of obesity among Cannabis users compared to non-users [3]. This suggests that there is a potential link between metabolism and Cannabis compounds. Additionally, some studies imply that the exposure of individuals to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a compound of Cannabis, directly relates to the lower rate of obesity among regular Cannabis users [4].

Furthermore, in a study where mice subjects were treated with low dose THC, they found that the treatment provided significant protection for the subjects against poor heart blood flow. This was confirmed by the lowering of the troponin levels (a measure of risk of heart injury) and reduced dead heart tissue or infarct size [5].

Cardiovascular effects of Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana for certain cardiovascular disorders is chemically designed to address the problem. Whether it means increasing CBD and decreasing THC content, Marijuana has shown potential therapeutic effects for several types of cardiovascular diseases [6].

Most of Cannabis’s therapeutic effect on the cardiovascular system is through CBD. CBD’S anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties makes it a viable agent for reducing certain cardiovascular risks such as high blood pressure and stroke [6].

 

High blood pressure

High blood pressure, a fire-starter of progressing heart disease, can stem from stress, and research says CBD can reduce blood pressure by reducing stress levels [7].

In a 2009 rat-focused study, a dose of CBD lowered both heart rates and stress-induced rats’ blood pressure [8]. Another study in 2017, where healthy volunteers were stress-induced, CBD significantly lowered their blood pressure compared to placebo-treated ones [9].

 

Stroke

The existence of heart disease increases the chances of a stroke. In a 2010 review on CBD, the team found that CBD protects the brain from damage, boosts its recovery and function [10]. Another review published in 2017 suggested that CBD improves blood flow in the brain during a stroke episode [11].

Most studies regarding Medicinal Cannabis and cardiovascular disorders are done via animal models. Thus, studies mostly end with a recommendation to push for clinical or human trials. But before such trials, more research about the subject is recommended to medically insulate volunteers from possible adverse effects. Therefore, if you’re considering the Medical Cannabis route in treating a particular disease, consult with your doctor first.

 

Disclaimer: This is not an inducement to use Medicinal Cannabis. Medical Cannabis doesn’t work for everyone, and it may not work for you. How Cannabis affects a person depends on many things, including their size, weight, age and health, dosage and tolerance, and the results can vary. Some people may experience side effects when taking Cannabinoid medication. The information provided by CDA Clinics is for educational and informational purposes only. For medical advice, please check with your doctor and request a referral.

 

Endnotes:

 

  1. Department of Health. N.A. What we’re doing about cardiovascular conditions. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/chronic-conditions/what-were-doing-about-chronic-conditions/what-were-doing-about-cardiovascular-conditions

 

  1. Morgan CJ, Das RK, Joye A, Curran HV, Kamboj SK. 2013. Cannabidiol reduces cigarette consumption in tobacco smokers: preliminary findings. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23685330/

 

  1. Penner EA, Buettner H, Mittleman MA. The impact of marijuana use on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance among US adults. Available at: https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343%2813%2900200-3/fulltext

 

  1. Le Foll B, Trigo JM, Sharkey KA, Le Strat Y. 2013. Cannabis and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for weight loss? Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23410498/

 

  1. Waldman M, Hochhauser E, Fishbein M, Aravot D, Shainberg A, Sarne Y. 2013. An ultra-low dose of tetrahydrocannabinol provides cardioprotection. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23537701/

 

  1. Chesak, J. 2019. CBD for Heart Disease: Benefits, Side Effects, and Treatment. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-for-heart-disease#how-to-use

 

  1. Appiah-Kusi, et al. 2020. Effects of short-term cannabidiol treatment on response to social stress in subjects at clinical high risk of developing psychosis. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7113209/

 

  1. Leonardo B.M. Resstel, et al. 2008. 5‐HT1A receptors are involved in the cannabidiol‐induced attenuation of behavioural and cardiovascular responses to acute restraint stress in rats. Available at: https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2008.00046.x

 

  1. Jadoon, K. et al. 2017. A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study. Available at: https://insight.jci.org/articles/view/93760

 

  1. Hayakawa, K. et al. 2010. Therapeutic Potential of Non-Psychotropic Cannabidiol in Ischemic Stroke. Available at: https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8247/3/7/2197

 

  1. Sultan, S. 2017. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Haemodynamic Effects of Cannabidiol. Available at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2017.00081/full