Effects of Medical Cannabis on Cardiovascular Disease

Coronary heart disease (CHD), is a condition caused by the build-up of waxy plaque in the arteries that flow to and from the heart. Coronary heart disease also goes by other common names, including coronary artery disease, heart disease and arteriosclerotic heart disease. CHD occurs when the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart narrow and sometimes harden, which over time can cause ruptures, heart attacks and other fatal conditions.

For the past several decades, clot-busting prescription drugs, tiny balloons implanted to open up arteries and bypass surgeries have all been on the rise. The result is that today coronary heart disease is considered more chronic than necessarily fatal, although these treatments are really resolving symptoms rather than the underlying causes of the disease.

All of these disorders are related to elevated inflammation levels — and as you’ll learn, by reducing inflammation, the root of most diseases, you place your body in a state that is conducive to healing. Here’s the good news: medical cannabis can help in addition to inviting whole foods into your life that are available in common grocery stores. It can help reverse coronary heart disease and lower your risk for developing various forms of cardiovascular disorders.

Findings on Medical Cannabis and Heart Disease

Cannabis has shown it limits cell damage and offers cardio and neuroprotective effects following ischemic events like heart attacks and strokes. These benefits are primarily due to the presence of a major cannabinoid found in cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD).

When administered shortly prior to a heart attack in animal trials, CBD has been found to significantly reduce infarct size (cell death), oxidative stress, inflammation, and fibrosis, and preserve the performance of the left ventricle. In addition, CBD has demonstrated its capability as an anti-arrhythmic and can restore regular rhythm following an ischemic attack.

Another major cannabinoid found in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has demonstrated the ability to offer cardioprotection. One study found that very low doses of THC administered 2 hours, 48 hours, or 3 weeks continuously prior to heart attack reduced infarct size, therefore limiting heart damage. More recently, a study examining records of hospitalized patients found that recent marijuana use reduced mortality rate and the risk of intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) placement and shock following a heart attack.

In both animal and human studies, cannabinoids have been found to cause blood vessels to vasodilate, improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. Another study found that marijuana use before a heart attack may improve survival rate while in the hospital. CBD specifically has shown to be a vasodilator, allowing for greater blood flow and reducing the damage to arterial walls and lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke. This vasodilator effect has been shown to help normalize blood pressure.

It’s important to note that in other studies, cannabis use has been found to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular complications. However, one study found that smoking marijuana was found to be a rare trigger of heart attacks. Instead of smoking, tinctures, tablets and suppositories are also methods to consume medical cannabis to treat heart diseases.


As with all applications of medical cannabis, research is scant for how effectively major cannabinoids like THC and CBD may help prevent or treat heart and cardiovascular diseases. What research has been conducted has pointed toward a strong efficacy from multiple components of cannabis, including the non-psychoactive cannabinoid THCV, THCa and CBD.


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