Marijuana use can increase blood pressure in both direct and indirect ways. However, experts are unsure if it can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
High blood pressure is a common condition that can cause complications like heart failure, heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, high blood pressure can usually be managed with lifestyle changes like diet, exercise and medications. If you have high blood pressure and also use marijuana, you may wonder whether your drug use influences heart health.
Article at a Glance:
- High blood pressure can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Marijuana is known to increase both blood pressure and heart rate.
- Experts are unsure whether marijuana can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What Is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure refers to the force of blood in your arteries as it is pumped by your heart. A blood pressure reading consists of two stacked numbers. The top number is your systolic blood pressure, which is the amount of pressure when your heart is contracting. The lower number is diastolic blood pressure, which is the pressure between heartbeats. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a condition where the force of blood pressing against artery walls is too high. In general, high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 or higher.
Many people with high blood pressure do not have symptoms, which is why the condition is often referred to as a “silent killer.” Whether symptoms are present or not, high blood pressure significantly increases your risk of future medical conditions.
High Blood Pressure Risks
The longer high blood pressure is untreated and uncontrolled, the higher the risk of long-term medical complications. These include:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Aortic aneurysm
- Kidney disease
- Vascular dementia
Does Marijuana Affect Blood Pressure?
Experts believe that marijuana may mildly increase blood pressure and heart rate. This is likely linked to the dose of marijuana used, with higher amounts causing a more severe impact than lower amounts. For this reason, people with high blood pressure may want to avoid heavy marijuana use.
Even though it can cause high blood pressure, marijuana is also linked to a sudden drop in blood pressure when a person shifts from sitting to standing (orthostatic hypotension). It is possible to have orthostatic hypotension when changing positions and still have high blood pressure.
Little research exists about the impact of marijuana on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. One large study found no link between marijuana and cardiovascular disease. However, other studies found that chest pain occurred sooner in people exposed to marijuana and that the drug may increase the risk of a heart attack.
Marijuana can also affect your blood pressure indirectly. For example, marijuana may increase someone’s appetite. It may also cause them to make dietary choices that increase blood pressure, such as eating salty foods more often. Further, a poor diet from an increased appetite can cause weight gain — another risk factor for high blood pressure.
What the Risks Mean
Because marijuana can increase blood pressure and heart rate, it is important to be careful — especially if you have high blood pressure already. Although the link between marijuana and cardiovascular complications is unclear, cardiovascular problems like stroke can be devastating. It is important to consult your doctor about marijuana use if you have high blood pressure or other cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Marijuana Abuse Resources
It can be hard to stop marijuana use, even when you know it is harming your health. Marijuana addiction can be a serious condition, but help is available at The Recovery Village. Contact our caring representatives today to learn more about treatment plans and recovery programs that can work well for your situation.
Food and Drug Administration. “Understanding the Silent Killer.” August 2, 2016. Accessed November 15, 2020.
National Health Service. “Overview: High blood pressure (hypertension).” October 23, 2019. Accessed November 15, 2020.
Sidney, Stephen. “Cardiovascular consequences of marijuana use.” Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, November 2002. Accessed November 15, 2020.
Al Shaarawy, Omayma; Elbaz, Hosam A. “Cannabis Use and Blood Pressure Levels: […] Survey, 2005–2012.” Journal of Hypertension, August 2016. Accessed November 15, 2020.
Department of Health and Human Services. “Your Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure.” May 2003. Accessed November 15, 2020.
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