Hypertension (HTN) or high blood pressure, sometimes called arterial hypertension, is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated. Blood pressure is summarised by two measurements, systolic and diastolic, which depend on whether the heart muscle is contracting (systole) or relaxed between beats (diastole). This equals the maximum and minimum pressure, respectively. There are different definitions of the normal range of blood pressure. Normal blood pressure at rest is within the range of 100–140 mmHg systolic (top reading) and 60–90 mmHg diastolic (bottom reading). High blood pressure is said to be present if it is often at or above 140/90 mmHg.
Hypertension puts strain on the heart, leading to hypertensive heart disease and coronary artery disease. Hypertension is also a major risk factor for stroke, aneurysms of the arteries (e.g. aortic aneurysm), peripheral arterial disease and chronic kidney disease.
Hypertension is classified as either primary (essential) hypertension or secondary hypertension; about 90–95% of cases are categorized as primary hypertension which means high blood pressure with no obvious underlying medical cause. The remaining 5–10% of cases categorized as secondary hypertension is caused by other conditions that affect the kidneys, arteries, heart or endocrine system.
Dietary and lifestyle changes can improve blood pressure control and decrease the risk of health complications, although drug treatment is still often necessary in people for whom lifestyle changes are not enough or not effective. The treatment of moderately high arterial blood pressure (defined as >160/100 mmHg) with medications is associated with an improved life expectancy.
Medical Marijuana Efficacy
Recent research indicates that the body’s internal cannabinoid system plays an important role in regulating blood pressure, but a full understanding of the exact mechanisms awaits further research. Animal studies have demonstrated that annadamide and other endocannabinoids suppress hypertension.
Emerging research indicates that the endogenous cannabinoid system plays a role in regulating blood pressure, though its mechanism of action is not well understood. Animal studies demonstrate that anandamide and other endocannabinoids profoundly suppress cardiac contractility in hypertension and can normalize blood pressure, leading some experts to speculate that the manipulation of the endocannabinoid system “may offer novel therapeutic approaches in a variety of cardiovascular disorders.”
The administration of natural cannabinoids has yielded conflicting cardiovascular effects on humans and laboratory animals. The vascular response in humans administered cannabis in experimental conditions is typically characterized by a mild increase in heart rate and blood pressure. However, complete tolerance to these effects develops quickly and potential health risks appear minimal.
Official Research Reports
A new face of endocannabinoids in pharmacotherapy. Part I: protective role of endocannabinoids in hypertension and myocardial infarction. (Zubrzycki M, Liebold A, Janecka A, Zubrzycka M, 2014)
Preventive and treatment effects of a hemp seed (Cannabis sativa L.) meal protein hydrolysate against high blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats. (Girgih AT, Alashi A, He R, Malomo S, Aluko RE, 2014)
Increased blood pressure after abrupt cessation of daily cannabis use (Vandrey R, Umbricht A, Strain EC, 2011)
Cardiovascular effects of cannabinoids (Járai Z, Kúnos G, 2002)
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