About Hypertension

Hypertension refers to the conditions of having high blood pressure for a long period of time. Having hypertension increases the risk of heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Some 92 million U.S. adults are living with at least one form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of a stroke.

 

According to the American Heart Association, which uses donations to fund research, cardiovascular disease claims more lives each year than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases combined. It’s estimated that, in the U.S., a heart attack happens every 40 seconds, and cardiovascular and heart disease are the underlying cause of some 1 in 4 deaths in the U.S.

 

2012 reports show about 34% of adults have hypertension in the States, more than 1 in 3, and in the coming decade, that number is expected to grow up to 41.4%. Roughly speaking, that’s about 90 million people with high blood pressure. 77% of first-time strokes are related to hypertension, and states in the southeastern U.S. have the highest rates of hypertension.

 

What Causes Hypertension

There are no signs or symptoms of hypertension, and many don’t realize they have it. To diagnose, doctors will check systolic and diastolic blood pressure. That means the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats, and in between beats.

 

While scientists don’t have exact causes nailed down, researchers continue to study how various changes in normal body functions cause hypertension. The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which controls blood vessels and some kidney functions, sympathetic nervous system activity, and structural or functional changes in blood vessels are all being studied as key functions in causing hypertension.

 

The American Heart Association campaigns to improve cardiovascular health 20% by the year 2020 by promoting what they term, “Life’s Simple 7”. Their campaign addresses the diet and lifestyle factors that increase the risk of heart diseases, such as smoking, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

 

Normal Treatments for Hypertension

Individuals can treat most hypertension by changing their lifestyle and diet. People can reduce sodium intake (salt), eat more fruits and vegetables, and exercise regularly to help lower blood pressure. Reducing alcohol and caffeine intake can help, as well as quitting smoking, losing weight if obese, and getting enough sleep can all help to lower blood pressure.

 

For those who’ve addressed their lifestyle and diet, but still have hypertension, doctors may prescribe or recommend various pharmaceuticals that might help. However, studies indicate that half of the hypertension patients continue to struggle with the condition, and about 12 percent of patients have hypertension that won’t respond to normal treatment at all.

 

The most commonly prescribed blood pressure medication, Lisinopril, belongs to a class of drugs called angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, or ACE inhibitors. While effective, adverse reactions to these drugs can be life-threatening.

 

The drugs can cause something called Angioedema when the face, lips, tongue, throat, or abdomen become dangerously swollen and inflamed. Severe allergic reactions are common, and toxicity to the liver and pancreas, blood disorders, birth defects during pregnancy, and sexual dysfunction are all associated with the drug.  

 

How Medical Marijuana Can Help Hypertension

Initial interest in treating hypertension with cannabis began in the 1970’s, but research was focused on [THC] and how low blood pressure was associated with long-term chronic cannabis use. More recent research into medical marijuana has revealed a deeper connection between cannabinoids and cardiovascular activity.

 

Multiple studies have proved that [CBD] reduces blood pressure. CBD is a vasodilator, meaning it helps blood vessels to expand; increasing blood flow and normalizing blood pressure. CBD has even been found to have neuroprotective and cardiovascular modulatory effects that could potentially prevent the development of conditions like hypertension, or even Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Recent advances in the understanding of the biological processes that cause hypertension have allowed scientists to verify why phytocannabinoids found in cannabis are able to treat hypertension. Authors of an AHA paper published in the journal Circulation concluded by stating that, endocannabinoids suppress cardiac contractility in hypertension.

 

Researchers think that by blocking hydrolysis of anandamide in CB-1 receptors, blood pressure can be normalized. Their results are supported by previous findings in an extensive study on the effect of a synthetic cannabinoid on sympathetic cardiovascular regulation, in which researchers analyzed how CB-1 and CB-2 receptors modulate the nervous system and help to regulate cardiovascular activity.

 

The most effective treatment for hypertension may be a healthy diet and lifestyle, but for those who need medicine to control high blood pressure, medical marijuana serves as a safe alternative to pharmaceuticals. Consult with a physician and medical marijuana professional about using cannabis, as it can affect individuals differently. Follow the links below to strains that have been reported to help with hypertension, and check out our other medical conditions articles to learn more about current research into medical marijuana.

 

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Sources:

American Heart Association (2017) Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics

CDC (2016) Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. High Blood Pressure Fact Sheet

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2015) Causes of High Blood Pressure

AHA (2014) Circulation. Hypertension. Endocannabinoids Acting at Cannabinoid-1 Receptors Regulate Cardiovascular Function in Hypertension

Niederhoffer, Nathalie (1999) British Journal of Pharmacology vol. 126, issue 2. Effect of the cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN 55212-2 on sympathetic cardiovascular regulation

Top Strains That May Help With Hypertension

Hybrid
 
Hybrid
 
Sativa