About Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular heart disease is a general term that refers to heart conditions that develop due to damage or weakness in heart muscles, abnormal heart rhythms, or problems with the valves of the heart. Cardiovascular disease is a specific type of heart disease that affects the blood vessels. When blood vessels are blocked, blood flow is restricted and this may lead to stroke, heart attack or pain, and discomfort in the chest (angina). Heart disease is a very critical condition that can reduce your quality of life or even lead to death. In fact, heart disease is the number one cause of death in some countries and one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
Types of Heart Disease: Causes and Symptoms
Heart disease refers to a range of conditions that affect the heart. A few types of heart disease are explained below:
Coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease: This results from the narrowing of your coronary arteries. These are the blood vessels that transport blood and oxygen to your heart. When cholesterol and other waste products settle in your arteries, they form plaque which can block the arteries and reduce blood flow. This buildup of plaque in your arteries is called atherosclerosis.
Coronary heart disease is caused by damage to your coronary arteries. Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of coronary heart disease. However, factors such as prolonged smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and an inactive lifestyle may also lead to damaged coronary arteries. Symptoms of coronary artery disease include:
- pain, discomfort, pressure or burning in your chest (angina)
- shortness of breath
- pain or discomfort in your shoulder or arms
- fatigue or weakness
- cold sweats
Atherosclerosis: This condition restricts blood flow to the extremities of your body. This may cause you to feel pain, tingling or numbness in your fingers, arms, hands, legs, feet and toes because not enough blood and oxygen is reaching those parts of your body.
Atherosclerosis is caused by deposits of cholesterol, fat, and calcium that harden in your arties over time. Other risk factors for atherosclerosis include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and inflammatory diseases such as lupus and arthritis.
Symptoms of atherosclerosis include:
- high blood pressure
- kidney failure
- pain, pressure or discomfort in your chest (angina)
- pain, numbness or tingling in your arms and legs
- slurred speech
- loss of vision
- dropping face muscles
- heart attack
- extreme anxiety
- kidney failure
Congenital heart defect: This is a disease that presents itself at birth. It refers to abnormalities within the structure of your heart and may be present in your heart walls, heart valves or your blood vessels. These defects may block or restrict blood flow or even cause leakages in the heart.
The exact cause of congenital heart disease is not known. However, some researchers believe genetics, drug or alcohol abuse during pregnancy or a viral infection during a mother’s first trimester may contribute to the onset of the condition.
It is possible to have a congenital heart defect and experience no symptoms. However, some symptoms may include:
- problems with exercise
- shortness of breath
- poor weight gain, lung infections, bluish skin, fingernails and lips and fast breathing in babies
Arrhythmias: For most people, the heart beats at a regular rhythm or pace. However, some people have an irregular or abnormal heart beat known as an arrhythmia. This might cause the heart to beat too quickly, too slowly or with an irregular rhythm.
Arrhythmias may be caused by coronary heart disease, prolonged high blood pressure, heart attack, cardiomyopathy, stress, drug or alcohol abuse, certain medications or an imbalance of electrolytes in your body.
- chest pain (angina)
- fluttering in your chest
- racing heartbeat or slow heartbeat
- shortness of breath
Endocarditis: This refers to an infection in the heart, particularly in the inner lining of the heart, known as the endocardium. Endocarditis can occur when bacteria, fungi, viruses or parasites travel through the blood stream and end up in the heart. Once there, they wreak havoc and damage the heart.
Endocarditis generally affects people who already have an existing heart condition. It occurs when organisms that cause infection are allowed to enter the bloodstream. This can happen due to poor oral hygiene, bleeding gums, certain dental procedures that cut or bruise your gums, catheters, using unsanitary needles, or other medical conditions such as intestinal tract disorders, gum disease or sexually transmitted infections.
Endocarditis can mimic the flu. Common symptoms include:
- fever or chills
- coughing or shortness of breath
- muscle or joint pain
- pale skin
- loss of appetite or feeling full
- unintentional weight loss
- swollen feet, legs or abdomen
- heart murmur — a turbulent sound in your heart caused by abnormal blood flow
Cardiomyopathy: Your heart muscle (myocardium) may become thick, enlarged or stiff. This causes weakness in your heart—a condition called cardiomyopathy. The entire size, shape and structure of your heart muscle may change. This means blood will not be pumped as efficiently as a normal heart and may result in heart failure.
Cardiomyopathy has been linked to a variety of factors, including long-term high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, thyroid conditions, prolonged drug or alcohol abuse, use of anabolic steroids, nutritional deficiencies of minerals and vitamins (especially vitamin B1), infections, excess iron and protein in the heart, other pre-existing heart diseases, and damage to the heart.
- chest pain or discomfort (angina)
- difficulty breathing
- swelling of your legs, ankles and feet (edema)
- heart palpitations
- high blood pressure
How Can You Prevent Heart Disease?
Of course, there is no way to completely eliminate the possibility of heart disease. After all, congenital heart disease happens at birth! However, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Here are some of them:
- Limit stress.
- Monitor and control your alcohol consumption.
- Quit or avoid smoking.
- Limit consumption of foods high in LDL (bad cholesterol).
- Consider adding foods high in HDL (good cholesterol) to your diet; these include avocado, dark chocolate, olive oil, nuts and fish.
- Practice good oral hygiene.
- Do regular cholesterol, hypertension, BMI, and diabetes checks.
- Avoid sitting for long periods.
- Make regular exercise a part of your lifestyle.
- Maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
- Visit your doctor to do an annual medical examination and get a full work-up of your health status.
Remember, you may have heart disease without showing any symptoms. Staying aware and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key for long-term health.
Can CBD Help With Cardiovascular Disease?
What if you already have heart disease? You may be taking prescription medication and these may cause negative side-effects without offering much relief. Even so, you should not stop taking these medications without consulting your doctor. However, you can speak to your doctor about the possibility of taking CBD for cardiovascular disease.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an all-natural non mind-alterating product of hemp plants. It is emerging as an effective treatment for many symptoms associated with heart disease, such as inflammation and hypertension.
Similar to aspirin (which is a common treatment for heart disease), CBD is believed to have properties that can reduce inflammation, relax blood vessels, and regulate blood thickness. CBD may also reduce stress and regulate your heart rate, thus decreasing your risk of a cardiac episode.
Despite its beneficial health effects, it should be noted that CBD is not a cure for heart disease. Like other medications, it does not automically improve your heart health and may have different reactions with different people. If you persist with unhealthy lifestyle habits, you will likely not see the full benefits of CBD. CBD promotes improved cardiovascular health when it is paired with a healthy lifestyle and regular consultation with your doctor.
What Studies Exist to Support the Use of CBD for Cardiovascular Disease?
Studies on CBD are ongoing. The pool of studies on CBD’s effect on heart disease is even more limited. However, the studies that have been done present some promising findings that may change how cardiovascular treatment is conducted in the future. For example:
- A study published in 2010 and another study published in 2015 showed that CBD helped to manage arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) in a rat artery model using live animal tissue.
- A 2007 study, also conducted on live rat tissue, showed that CBD can help to preserve the tissue in the arteries.
- A 2010 study concluded that CBD can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases resulting from diabetic complications.
- A 2015 study strongly suggested that CBD has the potential to protect heart cells, helping to both heal and reduce tissue injury in the heart.
- A study in 2018 suggested that CBD use is associated with lower rates of death in patients recovering from a heart attack.
Which CBD Products Help With Cardiovascular Disease?
There are a range of CBD products out there. Do thorough research to ensure your CBD product is pure and of high-quality. CBD may have any interactions with other medications.
Talk to your doctor before starting a CBD regimen. Like other drugs, it may take a little experimenting until you find the CBD product that is right for you.
When using CBD in the treatment of cardiovascular disease, a daily regimen of full spectrum CBD oil in the form of tinctures or gel capsules is helpful. It is recommended that you vaporize CBD oil for fast-acting relief during acute flare-ups.
Please note that CBD has not yet been proven effective for treating cardiovascular disease. However, it may alleviate your symptoms. Be sure to do thorough research and consult a physician before trying any CBD product. Remember to start with low doses and then work your way up gradually as necessary.