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Kratom and Heart Health

A blood pressure cuff being used to measure blood pressure

Kratom is used for many reasons by folks from all walks of life. But as kratom grows in popularity, more and more questions emerge as to how it can fit into a healthy lifestyle.

Heart health is one of the most vital parts of your wellness, and so the question naturally arises: how does kratom affect the heart and cardiovascular system?

We’ll cover everything that we currently know about the issue of kratom, hearts, and how the two interact.

Kratom Heart Research: Important but Under-Studied

Long-time readers may have seen this coming, but the fact remains: More research needs to be done before we can draw any concrete conclusions about kratom’s effect on heart health.

Very little clinical research has been conducted. Moreover, as we’ll cover later on, available case reports have been criticized for lack of clarity, and methodological rigor raises questions about the available data’s validity.

As such, take all of the following information with a grain of salt. Nothing in this article should be read as proof that kratom is heart-healthy, and ALWAYS consult your physician when it comes to anything as important as your heart.

What (Very Little) The Research Has to Say

Again, virtually no research has been done directly on kratom’s effect on heart health.

However, there have been a few alarmist reports that have garnered a lot of attention and raised red flags, despite being based on conjecture and circumstantial evidence rather than rigorous clinical study.

  • Several human case studies of people suffering from cardiac events have identified kratom as a potential cause.
  • Autopsy reports from people who have died with kratom in their systems have raised concerns over kratom’s effect on the heart.

This negative buzz got enough traction that it became the focus of a formal Comprehensive Review, published in Frontiers in Pharmacology in 2021. It’s a bit technical, but the material findings of that review were as follows:

  • In vitro studies found kratom to have an effect on QTc (an important measure of heart function), but studies of adult regular kratom consumers did not find a similar effect.
  • The aforementioned case reports associating kratom with cardiovascular events lacked diagnostic rigor and did not satisfactorily link kratom as a potential cause of such events.
  • Autopsy and coroner’s reports similarly were inadequate to show that kratom had a causal effect on cardiac events, which were likely influenced by the use of other substances or pre-existing medical conditions.

So what can we take away from this? Two things.

  1. We need actual clinical research on kratom’s effects on heart health, not poorly-evidenced conjecture.
  2. Kratom may have an effect on heart health, and users with known cardiac health issues should take special care.

Outside of this extremely limited data, we can still extract a few insights from the use of common wisdom.

Kratom Can Affect Blood Pressure: Both Up and Down

Despite the lack of clinical data, users commonly report that changes in blood pressure may be a common side effect of kratom use.

But does kratom raise blood pressure? Lower it?

The answer will vary from person to person, strain to strain, and dosage size to dosage size.

Some users report experiencing hypertension, others hypotension — and the difference most often seems to coincide with the use of kratom for stimulant effects (raising blood pressure) or for sedative effects (lowering blood pressure).

Kratom Can Interfere With Drugs, Including Blood Pressure Medications

Kratom is known to interact with a variety of prescription drugs. Therefore, if you’re on any such medication, kratom use may mean that your doctor will need to modify your dosage or select another prescription for you entirely.

One class of drugs that kratom can affect is ‘ACE inhibitors‘. This is a class of drug that lowers blood pressure by widening blood vessels and increasing the flow of blood throughout the body.

Some of the most common ACE inhibitors are:

  • benazepril (Lotensin)
  • captopril (Capoten)
  • enalapril (Vasotec)
  • fosinopril ​​​​​​​(Monopril)
  • lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril.)
  • moexipril (Univasc)
  • perindopril (Aceon)
  • quinapril (Accupril)
  • ramipril (Altace)
  • trandolapril (Mavik)

If you have been prescribed an ACE inhibitor or other blood pressure medication, be sure to consult your doctor about your kratom use, as they will likely want to monitor your prescriptions’ effectiveness when paired with kratom.

There’s A Lot More to Learn

For those eager to learn more about how kratom use affects heart health, I’m afraid we’ve a ways to go before the puzzle is solved. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that we just don’t have the clinical data to be able to know for sure.

It’s yet another reason that the kratom community needs to rally around organizations like the American Kratom Association — a group pushing for greater kratom acceptance, more in-depth clinical study, and the future of legal kratom throughout America.

As new studies conclude and we learn more about how kratom and its alkaloids work, we grow closer to a happier, healther, safer tomorrow, with kratom finally getting the attention and applications it deserves.