BY RUTH HILL R.N.

This month we celebrate National Heart Disease Awareness Month. According to the CDC’s report on National Statistics, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. One person dies every 37 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. About 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.

Sometimes heart disease may be “silent” and not diagnosed until a person experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia. When these events happen, symptoms for a heart attack may include chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness and shortness of breath. A protocol taught is taking an aspirin immediately when calling 911.

Arrhythmias (irregular heart rate) present with a fluttering feeling in the chest (palpitations). Heart failure (when the heart is enlarged cannot pump efficiently and blood backs up in the lungs) presents with shortness of breath, fatigue or swelling of the feet ankles legs abdomen or neck veins. A smart preventive measure to protect you from heart disease is to stop smoking. Afford yourself of the many free clinics that scan abdomens for aneurism (a bulging of an artery) and neck arteries for blockage.

According to Science Digest mortality rates for cardiac disease has been declining until 2000 globally but are starting to increase due the incidence of obesity in developed counties not the increasing use of cannabis. In 2019 Mortality in Australia, UK and New Zealand has declined 30-50-% from what it was in 2000.

While cannabis has been shown to be pro-thrombotic, little is known on the mechanism of THC-induced platelet aggregation. In 2004, Deusch et al. demonstrated the presence of CB1 and CB2 receptors on platelet cell membranes. So how does cannabis affect the cardiovascular system?

First let’s look at the 2003 U.S. 6.630.507 B1 patent on cannabidiol (CBD) which states that “Cannabinoids are useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of a wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic age-related inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Also, particular application as neuroprotectants …… following ischemic insults such as stroke and trauma.” The expiration of this patent in 2019 does not negate its findings.

Now let’s look at other research on cannabis and heart disease. We can unequivocally state that there is a blatant bias when throughout the papers published, they state “marijuana is the most used illicit drug in America,” or that Cannabis ingestion has reached epidemic proportions worldwide.” Most studies are conducted with users who smoke cannabis, or use highly potent and unregulated synthetic cannabinoids a https://www.intechopen.com/

None of the research discusses the doses ingested/24hr. or ratios thus they do not lend themselves to reality. Cardiovascular adverse events do occur with synthetics but most users in the U.S. are not taking synthetics and recommended doses of full spectrum flower products are too low to precipitate a cardiovascular adverse event.

According to https://www.intechopen.com/ an open access website that reprints book chapters showed anandamide (our THC that we produce) and 2-AG (our CBD that we produce) receptors are present on the heart muscle and on blood cells. These receptors are cardioprotective against ischemia injury, myocardial ischemia, heart failure, and cardiomyopathies. Updated evidence shows that the CB2 receptor activation is cardioprotective.

It is important for health professionals to know that you are using cannabis long term as it can lower blood pressure and increase bleeding. Both of these side effects reduce the dosage of hypertensives and anticoagulants. It is important to consult a health professional who is expert in cannabis therapeutics. There are many reliable resources on the internet for professional advice.

For information on medical cannabis refer to Ruth Hill at hilruth@gmail.com

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