Arteriosclerosis / Atherosclerosis and Medical Cannabis Treatment
Coronary artery disease or coronary vascular, arteriosclerotic and ischemic heart disease are until now the leading cause of death in the United States. Coronary artery disease is caused by arteriosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries.” Arteriosclerosis occurs when the blood vessels which carry your nutrients and oxygen from your heart to your entire body become thick and stiff, restricting your blood flow. Healthy arteries are flexible and elastic. However, the walls in your arteries can harden over time.
When the blood flow is affected, the heart receives less or no blood supply, which causes more than half a million deaths a year. If your heart is not receiving enough blood, symptoms of pain or pressure in the chest, arm or jaw can occur. These are all warning signs of your heart having difficulty. Therefore, if you don’t treat it, you can end up having a heart attack.
Atherosclerosis happens when your body builds up fats, cholesterol and other substances in your artery walls, restricting blood flow. Although many times the terms are used interchangeably, atherosclerosis is a specific kind type of arteriosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is commonly known as a heart problem, but it can affect arteries in any part of your body. You may prevent and treat atherosclerosis by quitting smoking, having healthy food habits, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight.
Atherosclerosis develops gradually and mild and the symptoms only start showing up after an artery is so narrowed or clogged that the supply of blood that gets to your organs and tissues are affected. Some signs of atherosclerosis are facial or lower limb numbness, problems seeing, difficulty understanding speech, confusion, high blood pressure, kidney failure, sudden weakness, transient ischemic attack (TIA), which if it is untreated can develop to a stroke.
The exact cause of atherosclerosis is unknown, but it may start with damage or injury to the inner layer of an artery. This artery may be damaged by high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and other sources of tobacco, insulin resistance, obesity and diabetes, high triglycerides and inflammation from diseases such as arthritis, lupus or infections, or inflammation of the unknown cause. Atherosclerosis progresses slowly, and it may start as early as in childhood.
To help to control and prevent heart attacks, studies showed that cannabinoid receptors throughout the cardiovascular system play a significant role in the regulation of heart function and circulation. The body’s cannabinoids and marijuana cannabinoids are now known to be regulators of circulatory and immune-inflammation system functions. So, since inflammation is a great feature of atherosclerosis, researchers have suggested that cannabinoids of Marijuana may help to delay the progression of this disease.
An NCBI study conducted by Francois Mach in 2008 presented the benefits of cannabis compounds to blood vessels and reducing the progression of atherosclerosis in mice. A group of mice received a high cholesterol diet for 11 weeks, intending to clog their arteries. In the middle of the diet, some mice were orally administered 1 mg of THC daily, which has had a significant improvement.