The relationship between the heart and medical cannabis is quite complicated. Depending on your heart health and how much cannabis you have consumed, there are certain risk factors that you need to watch out for.
Some research suggests that higher doses of cannabis are associated with an increased risk of experiencing heart palpitations or sinus tachycardia, which occurs when your body sends out electrical impulses that cause your heart to beat quicker.
Moreover, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can also promote peripheral vasodilation, in which your blood vessels and arteries expand, decreasing blood pressure. However, cannabis hastens and slows down heartbeats and blood pressure. Nevertheless, there are a lot of other factors that lead to such effects.
The Basics of Cannabis
Cannabinoids make up over one hundred of the cannabis plant’s chemical components and bind to specific brain receptors. Cannabidiol (CBD), which does not produce any psychoactive effects, and THC, which is responsible for the mind-altering effects marijuana users seek, are the two varieties found in the highest concentrations of cannabis.
The degree to which marijuana’s psychoactive effects manifest depends on the quantity of THC in the strain, the dosage consumed, and how the substance is taken into the body. When marijuana is smoked or inhaled, it often takes effect within a few minutes and lasts up to four hours. When consumed in food or drink, marijuana’s effects come on more gradually and remain for a more extended period.
Cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant can bind to ECS receptors throughout the body and brain. This helps boost the immune system and control various activities vital to survival.
However, the CB1 and CB2 receptors do not always have a beneficial effect. In addition, the numerous cannabinoid chemicals and terpenes present in cannabis can cause these receptors to function in distinct ways. Because of this, it can be challenging to evaluate whether substances like CBD and THC are genuinely helpful or detrimental in specific contexts.
Does Smoking Marijuana Cause Heart Palpitations?
Marijuana use has been associated with a risk of experiencing heart palpitations, particularly in cannabis users who have previous medical histories of heart disease or cardiac arrhythmia. The following are the most typical kinds of palpitations:
- Sinus tachycardia: Refers to a condition in which the heart beats significantly quicker than usual
- Sinus bradycardia: Characterized by a slowing of the heart rate and a sinoatrial node rate that is less than 60 times per minute
- Second-degree atrioventricular block: Occurs when the electrical signals that tell your heart to contract do not always flow between the upper and lower chambers as they should, resulting in irregular heartbeats.
- Atrial fibrillation: Characterized by an erratic and often excessively rapid heart rhythm
THC is to blame for any adverse effects the drug has on the cardiovascular system. Some users of cannabis products that include THC report experiencing a sudden spike in their heart rate after consuming the substance. THC causes blood vessels to relax and widen, decreasing blood pressure. Because of this, the heart has no choice but to beat more quickly to maintain the same level of blood flow.
People who are healthy and have no preexisting heart or cardiovascular conditions should not be very concerned if they have a rapid heartbeat after using cannabis. Still, this symptom can be dangerous for those with a heart issue.
On the other hand, CBD does not have the same effect on the heart and other parts of the circulatory system. It is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substance that helps boost healing and reduce pain through interacting with various systems and processes in the body.
By softening THC’s activity on the CB1 receptor, CBD can mitigate the psychoactive effects of cannabis. In addition, this offers some defence against the harmful effects of THC, such as anxiety and paranoia.
The Impacts of Smoking Marijuana on Heart Health
The legalization of marijuana led to the development of strains three to seven times more potent than those accessible decades ago. The effects that medical marijuana or cannabis has on your health have both possible benefits and drawbacks. Take a look at some of them below:
Potential Positive Health Effects
- As per research, administering low or moderate doses of THC before ischemia is safe and effective and can lower myocardial ischemic damage. In other words, medical cannabis may help minimize the damage done to the heart after a heart attack.
- The terpene, Myrcene, has shown promise as a potential treatment for mitigating the effects of cardiovascular complications induced by heart attacks and strokes.
- Cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) have the potential to help decrease inflammation caused by ischemic heart disease. It also has neuroprotective and cardioprotective benefits, lowering the risk of heart attack or stroke and the damage these conditions can cause.
- Cannabis has been shown to lower hypertension or high blood pressure levels.
- Medical marijuana may help treat metabolic syndrome, a combination of hypertension, diabetes, and high body mass index (BMI).
- Cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes are abundant in cannabis. These three compounds have anti-inflammatory and anti-stress properties.
Potential Adverse Effects
- Research on marijuana use has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
- It is possible to experience high blood pressure, especially when consuming high amounts of THC. Those who are attempting to maintain a healthy heart rate may find this to be an issue.
- It is not optimal for your cardiovascular health to smoke marijuana, whether it is medical cannabis or recreational cannabis.
- CBD can potentially cause adverse interactions with other drugs, alcohol, or blood thinner medications like warfarin, which is used to treat blood clots.
Research on Marijuana Use and Risk of Heart Rhythm Disturbances
A study suggests marijuana smoking may not be linked to an increased risk of ventricular tachycardia (VT) and ventricular fibrillation (VF) following an acute myocardial infarction (AMI), which is another name for a heart attack. VT is a fast but regular heart rhythm that can develop into VF, which is a fast but irregular heartbeat and can lead to sudden cardiac death.
As per the study’s findings, reported marijuana users had a lower chance of developing atrial fibrillation (AFib) and dying in the hospital. The Heart Rhythm Society presented the results at Heart Rhythm 2018. However, older research results suggest that using cannabis is associated with higher heart and blood pressure rates, and very little is known about the cardiac-related consequences of using cannabis.
The research looked at clinical characteristics, and hospital outcomes from 1994 to 2013 of patients hospitalized who have used cannabis and those who have not. The occurrence of VT/VF or cardiac arrest served as the primary endpoint, while atrial fibrillation or death is secondary. Age, race, and other cardiac risk factors were some variables considered in the research.
According to the study, those who used marijuana had a lower probability of having coronary artery disease or coronary risk factors than those who had not smoked cannabis. Researchers also observed that those who used marijuana had a lower chance of dying while in the hospital, as well as a tendency toward a lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
Nevertheless, the researchers have stated that additional study is required to understand better the temporal relationship between the use of marijuana and heart disease. They stress the need to understand how marijuana affects the heart to give patients with educated options since marijuana usage among those older than 50 is expanding exponentially.
Research on the Link Between Marijuana Use and Potential Stroke Risk
According to two new preliminary studies presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in 2019, young marijuana users were linked to an increased risk of stroke. Moreover, people diagnosed with cannabis use disorder were more likely to be hospitalized for heart rhythm disturbances or arrhythmias.
As per the findings, young marijuana users who used cannabis regularly or smoked cigarettes had a three times higher risk of stroke than persons who did not use cannabis. The study found that cannabis users who did not use tobacco products but reported using cannabis for more than ten days per month had roughly 2.5 times the risk of a stroke compared to those who did not use recreational drugs.
The reported marijuana users were also more likely to be heavy drinkers and users of electronic cigarettes, all of which may have contributed to their risk. Due to the study’s observational nature and the fact that it did not investigate the biological mechanism between cannabis use and the risk of stroke, all that was accomplished was a possible correlation between the two factors.
Research on the Link Between Marijuana Use and Cardiac Arrhythmias
Another study was presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions to show the link between marijuana use and cardiac arrhythmias. This is the first study to examine the connection between cannabis use disorder and hospitalization due to arrhythmias. Even if it does not demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship, it does indicate a significant trend.
As per the results, people diagnosed with cannabis use disorder had a 50% higher risk of being hospitalized for cardiac arrhythmia than non-users. Arrhythmia is a condition that affects the normal rhythm of the heart. A pattern of heavy and obsessive use of marijuana is indicative of cannabis use disorder, which induces similar symptoms as alcoholism.
Some arrhythmias are entirely harmless, while others pose a serious risk to heart health. Within fifteen minutes of consuming cannabis, you might begin to feel its effects which typically continue for around three hours. These effects can be linked to rapid heartbeats, even in smaller doses. At greater dosages, it has been associated with a too-slow heartbeat.
The possibility that young people who use cannabis are at an increased risk of developing arrhythmia is a cause for significant concern. Doctors should question hospitalized patients with arrhythmias about their use of cannabis and other recreational drugs since these could cause their condition. Here are some natural ways to treat and prevent heart arrhythmia:
- Eliminating harmful habits such as excessive smoking or drinking
- Doing more exercise
- Eliminating the consumption of stimulants such as caffeine
- Treating insomnia and other sleep disorders
- Addressing other underlying medical issues such as diabetes
- Keeping away from foods that have added sugars, trans fats, and those that are excessively processed
- Finding effective techniques to deal with stress, such as practicing yoga
- Achieving or sustaining a healthy weight
What to Consider Before Using Cannabis Despite Having a Pre-Existing Heart Condition
When it comes to the effects of using cannabis and its cardiovascular effects, there are a substantial number of both good and bad aspects to consider. Those who suffer from cardiac conditions and require cannabis for medicinal purposes should discuss the matter with health care professionals first.
Cannabinoids in cannabis have been shown to induce a higher risk for diabetes and obesity, two conditions linked to heart disease. However, regular cannabis use may make other cardiac conditions much more severe. The following are some of the ways that the adverse effects of cannabis on the heart might be mitigated:
- A diet high in flavonoids found in many fruits and vegetables. This diet has also been shown to reduce the risk of some cancers.
- Regular exercise
- Other administration methods include topicals, vapes, capsules, tinctures, or edibles, rather than smoking.
- Cannabis, particularly strains with high THC content, should be dosed with extreme caution.
CBD and Its Benefits to the Heart
A dosage of CBD was shown to lower blood pressure in nine male participants in a 2017 pilot trial. Another comprehensive study and meta-analysis conducted in 2017 discovered that CBD does not have any significant impact on average people’s blood pressure or heart rate. But CBD might potentially lower both cortisol and blood pressure during stressful conditions.
There is some indication that CBD could enhance blood flow in the cardiovascular system, which might potentially help treat heart attacks and strokes. The data comes from studies that were conducted on animals. Researchers are still examining how or why this occurs. Thus, they are still unaware of whether or not the same advantages may exist in people.
CBD has shown promise in several trials as a potential treatment for irregular heart rhythms. However, none of these trials offer data that can be considered conclusive. There is no concrete evidence and valid clinical trials to support using CBD as an alternative to traditional therapies.
Keep in mind that there is a significant difference between the CBD used in research and the CBD products on the market. CBD sold in stores without needing a prescription may not have the same strength as CBD used in studies. Moreover, commercial CBDs may have additional substances that might alter the possible beneficial effects that CBD could have on one’s health.
Can CBD cause irregular heartbeat?
Using CBD by itself has little possibility of causing cardiac issues. On the other hand, CBD must pass through the liver to be broken down and metabolized. During this procedure, it may interact negatively with any cardiac drugs you are already on. This might cause issues with your liver or reduce the efficacy of any drugs you are already taking. The consumption of cannabis has been demonstrated to raise the risk of myocardial infarction and arrhythmias, which can lead to a heart attack.
Does CBD do anything to your heart?
According to the findings of several studies, CBD can relieve heart-related symptoms such as spikes in blood pressure caused by stress in adults with no preexisting cardiac issues. On the other hand, a comprehensive study and meta-analysis conducted in 2017 discovered that CBD does not significantly impact normal people’s blood pressure or heart rate.
Does CBD raise your heart rate?
Consuming cannabis has been associated with rapid heartbeat, even in smaller doses. However, CBD medication alone does not appear to have any effect on blood pressure or heart rate while the patient is at rest. Although, in some cases, CBD treatment does lessen the cardiovascular response to various forms of stress. According to specific research studies, CBD products may be beneficial for decreasing blood pressure because CBD may increase blood flow and expand blood vessels.
Is CBD good for heart palpitations?
Currently, limited evidence shows that CBD can treat or prevent cardiac arrhythmias. It is better to consult your doctor first before substituting CBD in place of traditional therapies since it increases the possibility that a patient will not receive the necessary care. However, in a research that was conducted in 2017, healthy human participants were subjected to stress and then given a dosage of CBD. Compared to volunteers who were given a placebo, those who took the CBD reduced their blood pressure.
Understanding how different cannabinoids influence the heart is limited. In certain circumstances, cannabis may assist in regulating this vital organ and alleviating heart palpitations. However, in other cases, it may cause heart palpitations to become even worse.
It is also essential to remember that different people may react to cannabis or medical marijuana in various ways and that different products will have their own unique effects. The influence that cannabis has on your heart health depends on the dose consumed and your current health condition.
The connection between cannabis and the cardiovascular system is convoluted, and researchers are still attempting to understand it. Before we can conclude on this topic, further research in this field is required. However, it does appear that cannabis smoking might cause some people to have heart rhythm disorders.
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