Although people may love smoking weed, it doesn’t love back! The heart, according to new research on marijuana, could be in trouble.
Scientific societies have pointed out not to smoke or vape any substance, including products that include cannabis, because of the potential harm to the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. A recent statement by AHA also encouraged similar habits.
Now research examines existing research on the connection between heart and cannabis. Recently it was established that the use of marijuana has the potential to impede the effects of prescribed medications as well as trigger cardiovascular conditions or events, such as heart attacks and strokes.
Some of the harmful effects of marijuana are more physical than you might think. Cannabinoids have the potential to raise the resting heart rate and make the heart pump harder. If someone is suffering from any heart condition, this increase in workload can compromise blood supply and result in myocardial infarction.
According to a study done in 2019, marijuana can affect the heart in three significant ways:
Cannabis arteritis. Increase use of marijuana can inflame the arteries while damaging blood vessel walls, and reducing blood flow to the organs. This can not only affect the only heart but many organs, especially the liver and kidneys in the long run.
Cannabis-induced vasospasms. When the wall of an artery contracts, it can cause the artery to narrow and reduce the amount of blood that can go into it; this is called vasospasm. Cannabis has been found to induce such vasospasms. Although the mechanism is not clear enough, it seems to be interfering with specific factors that are needed for the dilatation of vessels.
Platelet aggregation. This usually involves blood cells called platelets to clump together and form clots that can prevent blood vessels and decrease blood flow. An increase or decrease of platelet aggregation can result in additional clots, strokes, and Myocardial infarction or excessive bleeding.
Some study has found that within an hour of smoking marijuana, THC can induce heart rhythm abnormalities. It also appears to excite the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. This can result in a higher heart rate, a greater need for oxygen by the heart, raised blood pressure while lying down, and dysfunction within the walls of the vessels.
The effects of marijuana on the CV system are exceptionally worrisome and require more attention due to the growing legalization of marijuana for recreational and medicinal use across the US. As a result, the information in health care professionals about potential side effects and toxicities associated with acute and chronic exposure of marijuana is essential.
– Subramaniam VN, Menezes AR, DeSchutter A, Lavie CJ. The Cardiovascular Effects of Marijuana: Are the Potential Adverse Effects Worth the High?. Mo Med. 2019;116(2):146-153.
– Goyal H, Awad HH, Ghali JK. Role of cannabis in cardiovascular disorders. J Thorac Dis. 2017;9(7):2079-2092. doi:10.21037/jtd.2017.06.104
– Ravi D, Ghasemiesfe M, Korenstein D, Cascino T, Keyhani S. Associations Between Marijuana Use and Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Outcomes: A Systematic Review. Ann Intern Med. 2018;168(3):187-194. doi:10.7326/M17-1548