Can CBD Treat or Prevent Heart Disease?

UPDATED ON FEBRUARY 28TH, 2018

Heart Disease and our Cardiovascular System

Heart disease is the leading cause of death, according to the CDC. Our cardiovascular system is vital for every body system. It is made up of the heart, lungs, and blood vessels which are responsible for transporting nutrients, hormones, and oxygen to all the cells throughout the body. The cardiovascular system is also responsible for disposing of waste products, such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen waste from the body. This is why any malfunction or illness to part of the cardiovascular system could have catastrophic consequences.

The most common cardiovascular system conditions include chronic rheumatic heart disease, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, and diseases of the arteries, arterioles, and capillaries. These all are included in the category of heart disease. There are also a number of factors that put one at risk for developing heart-related diseases. The major one is the lifestyle factor, which consists of diet and exercise.

Different Types of Heart Disease

Myocarditis is the inflammation of the myocardium or muscular tissue of the heart. Research conducted by the British Heart Foundation found that lifestyle factors are not a factor for this condition. The main causes of myocarditis are viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. In some cases, autoimmune diseases can also cause myocarditis. The symptoms can also mimic other health-related problems. Symptoms include pain or tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, flu-like symptoms, and heart palpitations. Unfortunately, there is currently no medical treatment available to prevent this condition from occurring. For some, people can experience minimal to no complications, for others however, the inflammation can become so bad that it can damage the heart permanently.

If there is damage to the heart, ischemia can occur. This is when an inadequate supply of blood to organs or other parts of the body, even the heart itself. Ischaemia can cause arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). A slower than usual heartbeat is known as bradycardia, and a faster than normal heartbeat is known as tachycardia. An irregular heartbeat is also referred to as a flutter or fibrillation.

Having an irregular heartbeat can affect how effectively the heart can carry oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body. It also can impact how much blood actually gets to the heart. When ischemia leads to a lack of blood to the heart, this can actually cause tissue to die due to the lack of blood supply over time. If that part of the tissue dies, that means it can no longer function properly which can have detrimental effects on the heart and body.

The Benefits of CBD for Heart Disease

There are several medications to treat heart disease, and they often come with side effects or cannot be taken due to another illness or disease which is often accompanied by heart disease. One of the benefits of CBD is that there are little to no side effects. 

Research has shown CBD has anti-apoptotic (prevents cell death), anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects which have been studied for its impact on the cardiovascular system. CBD has shown promising therapeutic results for patients with cardiovascular disease, as CBD lowers blood pressure and inflammation.

The American Society of Clinical Investigation published a study in 2017 which demonstrated that CBD was able to reduce the systolic blood pressure (the maximum arterial blood pressure during the heart contraction) and also reduce the stroke volume (volume of blood pumped by the heart per beat). This study concluded that CBD can be seriously considered to help prevent ischaemic heart disease (also known as coronary heart disease, where the heart doesn’t receive enough blood), as well as a form or treatment for patients who have been diagnosed with this type of heart disease.

CBD has also shown that it can induce vasorelaxation, or reduce the tension of blood vessel walls. When tension is reduced on the blood vessel walls, blood pressure goes down. It’s pretty common for someone with heart disease to have high blood pressure. High blood pressure that lasts for an extended period of time (days or weeks) without being lowered puts extra strain on the heart. By helping reduce the tension of the blood vessel walls and lowering blood pressure, this allows for the heart to not have to work as hard. This can slow and even potentially prevent heart disease.

The Institute for Health & Welfare Research found that CBD may help restore blood flow to the heart. In the study, CBD reduced the number of ischemia-induced arrhythmias.

CBD’s Ability to Lower Stress

As stress is one of the causes of heart disease, anything that reduces stress will help prevent heart disease. One study from Brazil found that study participants who were asked to perform public speaking and took 300 mg of CBD had significantly lower stress levels than the participants who were given a placebo.

Several other studies have concluded that CBD reduces anxiety, and when administered as needed, appears safe, well tolerated with little to no side effects, and no risk of addiction.