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What You Should Know About Cholesterol, Marijuana, And CBD

Heart health is directly tied to overall health and aging. Here’s how CBD and marijuana could impact it.

In 2016, 28.2 million American adults were diagnosed with heart disease with a heart attack occurring every 40 seconds, according to the American Heart Association. As the leading cause of death for men, women and people of most racial and ethnic groups, new research is coming out every year that investigates other methods to eradicate the 1 in every 4 deaths that are heart disease related. 

Heart health truly matters, not just because of the importance of the body’s ability to pump blood and gain oxygen, but heart health is directly tied to overall health and aging. 

The National Institute on Aging explains, “Adults age 65 and older are more likely than younger people to suffer from cardiovascular disease, which is problems with the heart, blood vessels, or both. Aging can cause changes in the heart and blood vessels that may increase a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.” Ailments like high cholesterol, angina and heart disease often occur because of a heart not functioning at its proper capacity. 

Understanding Cholesterol

Cholesterol often has a bad reputation. Needed inside the body to make vitamin D, it’s a waxy substance that’s found in all cells. With a healthy diet and exercise, many people can stave off high cholesterol levels. However, for those with a genetic history of high cholesterol, other recommendations come into play. 

Mayo Clinic says to eat these top foods to help cholesterol numbers while keeping a heart healthy:

  • High-fiber foods like oatmeal and bran cereal
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds)
  • Fish (mackerel, herring, tuna, salmon, trout)
  • Almonds
  • Avocados

In a pinch, experts recommend looking for colorful, leafy fruits and veggies, which are often low-fat and cholesterol-free. 

Does Medical Marijuana Increase Your Heart Rate?
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Marijuana and CBD’s effects on the heart

CBD and marijuana seem to affect the heart in different ways, signaling more research is needed to best understand the body’s reaction to cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabis compounds. 

Board Certified Cardiologist Adam Splaver MD shared with us that CBD could have an impact on heart health.“We are at the infancy of understanding the effects of CBD in cardiac health. There have been several studies, one of which looked at a single dose of CBD on healthy volunteers and they found it lowered blood pressure,” he explained. “Since we know high blood pressure is tied to cardiovascular events, lowering blood pressure by using CBD ( and not THC) can be beneficial to heart health.”

RELATED: Can Using Marijuana Help Lower My Cholesterol?

In a 2012 study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, researchers found that direct application of CBD caused a reduction in vascular tension. While the application of CBD didn’t have an effect on blood pressure or heart rate, it did reduce the cardiovascular response to stress in non-humans.

Dr. Steven Reisman, a nationally-recognized cardiologist at the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center, believes individuals should be cautious with cannabis and CBD. In speaking to The Fresh Toast, he explained that while there are no current peer-reviewed studies proving marijuana or CBD are efficacious in treating heart disease and are unproven, “a small study published in 2017 suggested CBD ‘may’ have some effect on reducing stress related systolic blood pressure.” 

Dr. Reisman also spoke on the importance of lowering stress as it relates in playing a key role in increasing the risk of a heart attack. He explained, “Some studies have shown an increase in heart attack and death following natural disasters such as earthquakes and also in relation to the stress involved with the loss of a loved one.” 

RELATED: Inflammation & Obesity: Can Cannabis Help Break The Cycle?

With medical marijuana approved in some states (New Jersey and Delaware) for anxiety, some individuals are finding THC and CBD bring peace and calm to stressful situations.

Dr. Splaver mentioned the importance of understanding marijuana and CBD have a long way to go, sharing, “It is also still too early to know the effects of CBD on cholesterol. There are several small studies that showed a positive effect. Do not stop taking your cholesterol medication and keep in mind the overall negative effects smoking has on your health when considering CBD use.” 

While research continues to catch up with a growing number of individuals affected by heart disease, older advice still rings true: Eat well, sleep often, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

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