blood pressure hypertension heart health

No Increased Cardiovascular Risk For Stroke Patients Following Prescription Cannabis Use

By Frank Schuler

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Public health officials estimate that as many as 15 million strokes occur annually around the globe. Of that estimated 15 million, roughly one-third of them result in the person dying and another one-third leave the patient permanently disabled.

The main cause of someone experiencing a stroke is high blood pressure, which can be caused by a number of factors including poor diet, lack of exercise, other health conditions, and genetics.

With the rise in safe access to medical cannabis and products derived from medical cannabis, researchers are examining cannabis use and stroke survivors to gauge whether or not there are any elevated risks. Fortunately for stroke patients, a recent study in Italy is providing some promising news. Below is more information about it via a news release from NORML:

Genova, Italy: Patients with a history of stroke are not at an increased risk of cardiovascular complications following the use of nabiximols (a/k/a Sativex – an oromucosal spray containing a balanced ratio of plant-derived THC and CBD), according to clinical trial data published in the journal Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine. Nabiximols is available by prescription in various countries, but not in the United States, for patients suffering from symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Italian researchers compared the cardiovascular impact of nabiximols versus placebo in a cohort of 34 stroke survivors. Subjects in the study suffered from symptoms of spasticity. Patients in the study took either nabiximols or placebo in addition to their standard medications for a period of one-month.

Investigators reported: “No … adverse drug effects emerged during nabiximols treatment, namely no significant fluctuation of blood pressure and heart rate, nor ischemic or hemorrhagic events occurred. During nabiximols treatment, self-assessed blood pressure and heart rate did not change compared to the baseline condition. No patients showed significant acceleration or decrease in heart rate or change in rhythm and none required an additional ECG or cardiological evaluation during the study.”

Authors concluded: “The present study is the first to evaluate the effects of a cannabinoid drug (nabiximols) in patients with post-stroke spasticity. … This ancillary study adds evidence that, in patients who already underwent a cerebrovascular accident, nabiximols does not determine significant blood pressure and heart rate variation or cardiovascular complications. These data support the cardiovascular safety of nabiximols, encouraging more extensive studies involving cannabinoids characterized by slow absorption rates.”

Numerous studies demonstrate the ability of cannabinoids to influence blood pressure and other cardiovascular responses. However, data is inconsistent with respect to whether the frequent use of cannabis may increase one’s risk of stroke, heart attack, or other adverse cardiovascular events. While some studies report an increased risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases among marijuana consumers, others report either no risk or provide evidence of possible cardioprotection. A 2021 literature review of 67 studies published in The American Journal of Medicine concluded, “[M]arijuana itself does not appear to be independently associated with excessive cardiovascular risk factors.” Authors did caution, however, that “it can be associated with other unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol use and tobacco smoking that can be detrimental” to cardiovascular health.

Full text of the study, “Nabiximols effect on blood pressure and heart rate in post-stroke patients: A randomized controlled study,” appears in Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine.

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