Marijuana And The Risk Of Heart Attack: Exploring Potential Connections

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Marijuana is villainized in most societies. Most countries classify it as contraband and control its exchange for the return of money and other commodities. A larger section also believes in its potency to help relieve many problems. While there are always problems of addiction with it, it is not the only thing to be considered when it comes to its usage.

This article will not be discussing any of those but about the relation of it with heart attack. Some say they have a close relationship while others completely disagree. Let’s see how and what unfolds as we look into it in detail.

What is Marijuana and what does it contain?

Locally known as weed and scientifically known as Cannabis, it is found on the cannabis plant and is famous for its psychedelic properties. According to researchers, it has over 100 potent compounds. However, only two of its components are well-known including THC and CBD. While the former gives it the psychedelic property, the latter has nothing but therapeutic benefits.

What is Marijuana

The notoriety of marijuana can be blamed on THC which often works with the neurotransmitters to elicit strange reactions including paranoia and mood swings. However, CBD is considered to be comparatively mild and used for many medicinal purposes including pain management and depressive episodes.

Usually, marijuana is cultivated in two varieties- Indica and Sativa. Each is different based on the nature of the plant, size, and dosages. The strain could also vary when the type is a hybrid- a mixture of two or more types. While the attitudes towards its was initially cold, now things have changed. Several studies are being conducted to fix its position in the current health domain.

Marijuana and the risk of heart attack

Though the research is still ongoing, there are quite a few indications that there could be concrete evidence to indicate that using marijuana recklessly could lead to a heart attack. A few points are to be considered related to this finding.

  1. Cardiovascular effects- Marijuana and its components are known to increase heart rate and lower blood pressure. This is due to the way it responds to the flowing of blood, it can lead to multiple problems. The heart pumps blood in and out of organs through blood vessels. When the pressure increases or decreases, it can cause irregularity in the heart beats which can cause a heart attack.

    Any individual who is known to have heart problems or has a family history of heart attacks could be vulnerable to this phenomenon. In normal circumstances, the lowering of the pressure or increasing of heart rate shouldn’t be as risky as it seems. But with the vulnerabilities in our body, it could escalate quickly which makes it riskier for those.
  2. Acute effects- When we consume marijuana and its products, its effects start to show up within an hour of its consumption. So the risk is higher in this window and if the person has a history of heart attack, he/she should be closely observed to avoid any mishaps. While ideally, they should not consume it at all, hospitalizing immediately may be life-saving.
  3. Chronic use-  Using anything beyond a limit is harmful and something like marijuana is bound to cause trouble. Since its adverse effects are known, long-term use can cause severe heart problems. Doctors have been able to detect the narrowing of the blood vessel and its thickening as a result of constant marijuana use. After a while, this could lead to chronic diseases including arrhythmias and atherosclerosis. 
  4. Variability- This is the point pro-marijuana thinkers often bring up in a debate regarding substance control.  It allies with the idea that the impact of marijuana can vary depending on the individual using it. While there is some truth in it, it cannot fully satisfy those who are against it. Age, diseases, health, and dosage can all be determinants but the addiction feature seldom changes.

How to decrease the risk of heart attack caused by marijuana?

To decrease the risk of heart attack caused by marijuana you could follow these tips-

  1. Consult a doctor- In case, you are prone to a heart attack, before its consumption you must consult a doctor to discuss the merits and demerits as well.
  2. Know your status- Knowing where your health stands could also be useful to take necessary precautions during the course.
  3. Don’t smoke- Smoking marijuana is known to have many negative effects. Lungs and heart are equally affected and therefore smoking could be dangerous twice as much as other ways of consumption.
  4. Go for low THC- THC is considered to be the substance that causes cardiac-related problems in humans. So when using the products look for one with less percent. You could go for one with CBD so that the impact is not as much.
  5. Don’t mix and match- Certain individuals trigger heart problems when they often mix their consumption with alcohol, drugs, or other medications. If you are on a particular medication, try to find out its implications before using it.
  6. Stay hydrated- THC strain in marijuana is bound to dehydrate the body and the loss of moisture could prove to be fatal. Therefore never forget to drink water mostly more than required to err to the side of caution.
  7. Use moderation- Don’t overuse it. Know your limits and always stop when your limit ends.

Conclusion

Marijuana could be beneficial if used carefully but there are significant pieces of evidence to suggest that it can lead to heart problems. While it can vary the workings of the heart, the possibility of a heart attack can neither be confirmed nor denied. However, it has an increased possibility of causing Cardiac and pulmonary issues. This warrants lots of caution during its use. To be on the safer side, one with heart problems should not use marijuana without limit. Also, they should make sure to be in constant contact with their healthcare providers to take action immediately when they need it immediately. Caution is never bad and not at all in cases like this.

References

  • Prakash R, Aronow WS, Warren M, Laverty W, Gottschalk LA. Effects of marihuana and placebo marihuana smoking on hemodynamics in coronary disease. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1975;18:90–95. [PubMed]
  • Terry-McElrath YM, O’Malley PM, Johnston LD. Alcohol and marijuana use patterns associated with unsafe driving among U.S. high school seniors: high use frequency, concurrent use, and simultaneous use. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs. 2014;75:378–389. [PMC free article]

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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