February is Heart Health Month, a good time to take a look at your lifestyle and overall health and consider the many ways in which you can improve that vital organ’s function.
After all, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 655,000 Americans each year. That’s about one in every four deaths. We want to be doing all we can to prevent it if possible, and support the heart if something is off kilter.
So, when it comes to CBD and heart disease, can our favorite compound help improve cardiovascular function?
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is an umbrella term for any disease that stops the arteries of the heart from delivering enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart. The four most common types of heart disease are coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, heart valve disease and heart failure. Pericardial disease, cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), and congenital heart disease are others.
When blood can’t get to the heart, the result is a heart attack. And it’s not just the heart that’s at risk. Common heart disorders can also increase your risk for stroke. For example, coronary artery disease increases your risk for stroke because plaque builds up in the arteries and blocks the flow of blood to the brain.
Key risk factors for developing heart disease include:
- unhealthy diet
- physical inactivity
- overweight and obesity
- excessive alcohol use
- high cholesterol
Some risk factors for heart disease cannot be controlled, such as your age or family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk by changing the factors you can control. Eating healthy, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and monitoring cholesterol levels are all essential.
And research suggests CBD may also help help.
CBD and Heart Disease
Early studies are showing the benefits of CBD on patients with heart disease. Accumulating evidence suggests that CBD is beneficial for the cardiovascular system in a variety of ways. Research tells us that CBD has anti-inflammatory, antioxidative properties that may help reduce risk factors that can lead to heart disease, including lowering cholesterol and reducing inflammation. (Inflamed blood vessels make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body.)
There has also been significant research into CBD and heart disease with regard to several conditions which impact heart health and heart disease risks.
Heart arrhythmias (also called irregular heartbeats) cause the heart to beat at an irregular rate. In an arrhythmia, the heart could either beat too fast, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern. This condition can range from mostly harmless to potentially life-threatening.
In one study on rats, researchers noted the positive effect of CBD on arrhythmias. It was noted how CBD is “cardioprotective” by lowering ventricular arrhythmias. They concluded that CBD could help with the antiarrhythmic effect
And research in humans tells us the same thing! According to a 2014 study, “CBD has an antiarrhythmic effect against I/R-induced arrhythmias. The antiarrhythmic effect of CBD seems to be mediated through the adenosine A1 receptor activation.” Researchers conclude that CBD may be a valuable potential treatment for ventricular arrhythmias.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure causes excessive pressure on artery walls. The higher your blood pressure gets, and the longer it goes uncontrolled, the greater the damage. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attack or stroke.
Thankfully, the cardio-protective properties of CBD include positive impacts on blood pressure.
To start, CBD has direct actions on isolated arteries, causing both acute and time-dependent vasorelaxation (reduction in tension of the blood vessel walls).
Additionally, in a 2009 study, rats were subjected to a stressful situation that caused their blood pressure and heart rate to increase. A dose of CBD lowered both their blood pressure and heart rate. A more recent study (2017) treated nine healthy adults with one dose of 600 mg of CBD oil.
Analysis showed that systolic blood pressure (SBP), Diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and Mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) were all significantly lower in volunteers who had taken CBD, especially immediately after the stress test. After just one dose, researchers concluded that “This data shows that acute administration of CBD reduces resting BP and the BP increase to stress in humans, associated with increased HR.”
Earlier we mentioned diabetes as a risk factor for heart disease. Those with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than those without. So, when examining CBD and heart disease, looking at the link to diabetes is also of value. And that research is promising.
For example, research shows that CBD significantly reduced cardiac dysfunction in diabetic mice, associated with decreased myocardial inflammation and oxidative stress. Additionally, CBD has been shown to reduce the negative effects of high glucose, diabetes and inflammation on the vasculature and on vascular hyperpermeability. CBD treatment has a protective role in reducing the effects of cardiac ischaemia and reperfusion, or in reducing cardiac dysfunction associated with diabetes.
You only have one heart – it’s time to take care of it. Thanks to myriad research, we know that it can pay a valuable role in maintain heart health.