Effects of Marijuana on Blood Pressure and Hypertension

Health > The NCSM

How marijuana effects high blood pressure is a frequent query for medicinal marijuana users who may be looking to improve their blood pressure.  Many need to know can marijuana lower blood pressure.  There are few direct double-blind, placebo controlled studies on the issue, but there is plentiful evidence about the effects of pot on cardiovascular measures.

Effects of Marijuana on Blood Pressure
Short-term EffectsLong-term effects
  1. Increased blood pressure
  2. Increased heart-rate
  3. Possible orthostatic intolerance (dizziness on standing)
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Relaxation

Figure 1. Source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/56/e1/ac/56e1ac2ea6fa039ae7b9caa91de8372c.jpg

Is Marijuana Good For High Blood Pressure?

The affect of marijuana on blood pressure is, according to the evidence, a complex matter.  In the short-term, there is a transient rise in blood pressure and heart rate, akin to activities like exercise and sex.  During the period of an hour following use of bud, hash, and other forms of marijuana, there is an increase in the risk of cardiac events like heart attack and stroke, though the overall risk from marijuana alone is low.  This is the result of the stimulating affect of thc and other stimulating cannabinoids on the heart, brain, and cardiovascular system.

Smoked cannabis may raise the risk of heart attack by 4.8 times for the first hour after smoking.  In some cases, cannabis has been implicated in a rare condition called cannabis arteritis, although there have only been a handful of cases.  Arteritis is inflammation and lesions in the arteries leading to tissue necrosis.  There has only been less than 100 cases documented, so the connection to cannabis is not clear.  However, anyone who already has arteritis or Bueger’s disease which is linked most closely to cigarette smoking should closely monitor blood pressure when using medicinal cannabis.

In healthy people, a stimulus like exercise will cause an initial rise in blood pressure and heart rate.  Immediately after, there is an increased risk of cardiac events.  This is why someone who may be in great health will occasionally go into a cardiac arrest after running a marathon.  This is also why those with heart conditions are cautioned about sexual activity.  Heart rate will come back to normal in the minutes after the stimulus; however, this happens much slower in those with known or unknown cardiovascular conditions.  Heart rate and blood pressure may remain elevated for a longer period of time in these persons, leading to a longer period of increased risk of cardiac events from smoking marijuana.  A study done at Harvard Medical School reports that the risk of cardiac events increase 5 times after smoking marijuana, and returns to normal within 5 hours.  Risk could remain elevated if use continues, or conversely, tolerance may instead set in.

The increased risk of cardiac events is largely theoretical and has been extrapolated from animal studies, case reports, and meta-analysis that do not necessarily isolate marijuana use from other risk factors.  The few studies examining the risk such as the University of California CARDIA study found no long-term link between cannabis use and cardiovascular events.  Therefore, users who are concerned about adverse effects on bp should monitor their blood pressure and consult with their physicians about medicinal or recreational marijuana use if they have high blood pressure or other cardiovascular conditions.

Figure 2. source: https://static.mjwellness.com/uploads/news-editor-images/57f6009864506.jpg

Does Smoking Weed Lower Blood Pressure?

After the initial transient rise in blood pressure, which can rarely be dangerous, especially for those with other risk factors, blood pressure may subsequently decrease.  Once tolerance to the drug’s effects set in with repeated use, there may be a net decrease in blood pressure over time.  The initial hypotensive effect may even be experienced as dizziness upon standing a few minutes after smoking marijuana.  Some studies even demonstrate if marijuana is ingested in a standing position, the initial rise in blood pressure may be blunted or exterminated and one experiences only a drop in blood pressure.  Anandamide, the body’s natural form of thc, causes the blood vessels to relax, reducing arterial pressure.  However, when we examine the question does cannabis lower blood pressure, the picture is more complicated.  Although some components like CBD and anandamide may lower blood pressure, smoking the plant with the full range of cannabinoids will have different effects.  Therefore, different strains may have different effects on blood pressure.  Sativa strains are more stimulating and may lead to an initial rise in blood pressure.  Indica strains are more relaxing and may cause less increase in blood pressure and heart rate or may reduce blood pressure.  If one has concerns about one’s blood pressure, one should monitor blood pressure closely when using marijuana to make sure it doesn’t go to high and see if marijuana use subsequently lowers your blood pressure.  The answer will be different for different people.

Figure 3. source https://420evaluationsonline.com/files/articles/50341597b3d9ad4c99be5514e5ce374c2bkvnsksdfasdfasdfasdf.png

Can You Use Medical Marijuana For High Blood Pressure?

Over the long-term, it appears that marijuana might help lower blood pressure.  It appears to work like exercise.  Immediately after exercise there is a rise in blood pressure and a possibly slight increase in the chance of cardiac events.  However, following that initial period, there is a drop in blood pressure and an overall blood pressure reduction with exercise.  Cannabis seems to work similarly.  However, due to the lack of studies on the issue, care must be taken to monitor one’s own blood pressure to see what effect weed smoke or edibles have on oneself in particular.  One can also discover what effects different strains, sativa and indicas, have on your blood pressure.

Conclusion

The effects of marijuana on blood pressure is complex.  Acutely and for an hour or so after ingestion of marijuana, there is a slight rise in blood pressure and heart rate.  During the next hour, there is a slight rise in the risk of cardiac events similar to the increased risk from exercise.  Afterward, blood pressure may return to normal or may be reduced from baseline.  The best approach for those concerned about blood pressure is to take and record several blood pressure readings, before, immediately after, and several hours after smoking marijuana to make sure it isn’t causing high blood pressure or seeing what strains and patterns of intake  may help to lower blood pressure.

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Ari says:

Aaahahahahhahahahahahahhaaaaaaa! Let me be the first to comment & call bullshit! Yeah ooookaaay, so if this is fact hen why aren’t there millions of people having heartattacks due to marijuana use because I can promise you even the people you DONT think smoke, indeed smoke. Get out of here with your lies and propaganda that holds no actual weight in fact. The medical industry just doesn’t want to lose out on all that $$ lmao I know people who have healed themselves using marijuana…. why is there no recorded death connected to it? Hmm? Not a single one, no overdoses and certainly no heartattacks!

Kohde says:

Ari, the author of this article isn’t bashing marijuana. In fact, the author is making a positive comparison by comparing marijuana to exercise and sex. All of said activities initially increase bp but lower bp long term. Which is a good thing for the human body so long as the person performing these activities is in good overall health.

bret says:

Yep I was about to say the same thing. I’ve been smoking for 3 years daily now. My brother’s about 20 years. None of us have ever heard of such thing. Also none of us ever EVER had a problem with anything mentioned in this article.

Jim Bo says:

I’ve been smoking for close to 35 years. Let me say that marijuana does have negative effects, especially at the levels being consumed today. With high availability, increased quality, edibles and concentrates people are consuming much much more than has ever been consumed.

Do not be surprised if as you age you might start to develop increased side effects … dizziness, paranoia, panic attacks, low blood pressure (to the point of passing out).

I have learned that I need to “dry out” every now and then and have seen research on how marijuana effects the brain.

The truth is unfortunately there are very limited studies on the effects of marijuana. Sure safer than most drugs but do not be fooled … it is not the cure all drug that we made it to be. That only happened as a work around to the prohibition. I hope legalization brings legitimate studies.

Lastly how sad that so many people distrust science and medicine. In the past this wasn’t the case. Now everyone is anti knowledge and that is sad sad sad

dean day says:

Several times, after having a few drinks and smoking a hit or two of pot, about 10 minutes later my blood pressure plummets. Last time I recorded 54/36, with pulse at 45 and irregular pulse. It takes 10 minutes to recover. I have passed out from this.

Johnny Cabot says:

do not use cannabis if you suffer from high blood pressure.there millions of people having heartattacks due to marijuana

Pete says:

@ Ari and that idiot bret : Extremely foolish reply. This isn’t 1997 and the war on drugs. This is about dealing with blood pressure in a world where marijuana is increasingly legal, and how to deal with that/what to expect. Are you fuckers retarded? Do you not think that something that impacts your cannabinoids and catecholamine system won’t impact your fluid pressures? You do realize you’re a giant hormone filled meat sack filled with fluids, right? What you eat, drink, and smoke impacts those physical systems, the same way anything impacts anything from a physics standpoint.

This article isn’t about prohibition or demonizing weed you morons. It’s making pot safer for everyone.

Tamaya Nash says:

Ok so i have very high blood pressure i tryied CBD and it give me bad headache so i want to try THC.But with reading this i don’t want to now.

docdave says:

Dont e a ig wussy,forgive me-( the 2nd letter of the alphaet will not type on my P.C. ) If you suffer from high lood pressure then I would recommend taking your lood pressure medication & waiting long enough for it to take full effect. Then, consuming your marijuana. I personally do not have lood pressure prolems, ut I do have irregular heart eats( heart palpitations)that have reached to dangerously high levels. I also do take a lood pressure medication in order to treat this condition. The medication helps & it does work. I also like to use marijuana ecause I like to get high. Marijuana does increase my own lood pressure. To the point where I would “stars” or “spots”.Then I would get unusually dizzy, a “head-rush”, which if strong enough, has caused me to feint, or “pass-out”. I also,( on only 3 occasions that I know of ) after I had passed-out, went into a full-lown seizures, which is quite frightening. I do agree that modern marijuana has recieved some THC upgrades over time( either y, cultivation techniques, genetic manipulation, or y other tricks of the trade.)which has increased its potency & may have mistakenly & unintentionally. We all may well soon see this once pristine natural plant may one day ecome so tinkered with, it will quite possily evolve into( ecoming included into the U.S. governments already too long of a list), as another one of the so-called,”man-made” & “dangerous drugs”. -Mr.docdave

Drew says:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5237375/

Here is a real study for anyone who wants truth.