Does marijuana smoking cause a heart attack? If you are a newbie or thinking of quitting marijuana, this must be the question making rounds in your mind. Marijuana use is increasing in the US so are the incidents of cardiovascular diseases. This has been proven in several key studies, even though it lacks complete evidence. There is no doubt that marijuana overuse can lead to multiple health complications. It’s also true that there are certain chemical compounds or cannabinoids in marijuana that possess many health benefits. Also, even the World Health Organisation and the US Food and Drug Organisation have accepted this fact. So, what is the red line when it comes to marijuana use?
What are the factors that can lead to heart problems for marijuana users? In this article, we shall discuss how the deaths of some individuals, who died of heart attack, can be linked to marijuana smoking.
Let’s dive in!
Understanding marijuana and its components
Around 4 percent of the world’s population uses marijuana in one form or the other suggests statistics. Around 10 per cent of those users develop daily consumption habits, meaning they become habitual. Marijuana is a plant that’s growing on earth for thousands of years. Humans have also used it in varied forms. All its body parts, including stems, seeds, leaves and flowers, have a plethora of uses for medical as well as recreational purposes. Some people like to smoke it, while others like to drink in the form of hash tea or pot cake.
Some people use the more nuanced approach and like to use separate cannabis extracts — like CBD or THC — to get special effects. Marijuana comprises around 120 chemical compounds or cannabinoids that come into play when you try it out the incomplete form. The widespread use of cannabis has led to a growing acceptance or legalisation of the herbal plant. According to a ‘Monitoring the Future’ survey, conducted by the US National Institute of Drug Abuse in 2014, of the US states that have already legalised marijuana for recreational and medical use, 40 per cent high school seniors used it as compared to 26 per cent in the states that didn’t legalise it.
Did these men die of a heart attack?
Many incidents are being reported from across the world where patients who suffered cardiovascular attack had a marijuana link. A healthy 21-year-old man from the UK suffered a heart attack. Doctors cited he had blood clots in one of the arteries in his heart. As it turned out, the man was a regular marijuana smoker. Another report looked at the history of three patients, who had developed heart complications and needed to be revived using CPR. They also had a history of marijuana smoking.
A bigger study conducted in France, which was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, investigated 35 patients who had a history of cardiovascular complications, found 1.8 per cent of all serious side-effects occurred due to marijuana use. All these small and large-scale studies pointed towards the fact that marijuana and heart attacks have a link. However, all of them agreed the link needs to be probed thoroughly by conducting a large-scale study.
Side-effects of marijuana use
Many experts agree that though there are some red flags when it comes to people having heart issues and marijuana use. But, they also agree that if you look at currently available data, it’s hard to draw a conclusion and something seems to be missing. If you have doubts, it’s better to study marijuana first. The present research suggests marijuana does have effects on our cardiovascular system and it can increase the heart rate by 100 per cent during and within three hours of use. While marijuana advocates say this becomes less of a problem as we become habitual of consuming marijuana, it can certainly have an impact on arteries.
Not only this, but continuous marijuana use also increases anxiety. Chest pain, heart attack or variable heartbeats and mini-strokes are some of the most common problems reported among marijuana users. Marijuana is also classified as a Schedule I substance in the US, which means it has high chances of abuse and presents no “medicinal” properties. Despite the federal laws stating so, the use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes has been made legal across 34 states of the US.
Marijuana and heart attacks
If you are a marijuana smoker and if you have heart complications, it’s more likely that you’ll experience chest pain at a very early stage. One reason for that is the direct link between the cardiovascular system and marijuana. Over time, marijuana smokers experience increased heart rate, dilating blood vessels and difficulty in pumping the heart harder. Those into marijuana overuse have greater chances of experiencing heart attack hours after smoking marijuana than otherwise. This may not be a threat to those in early stages or at minimal cardiovascular risk but it’s a red flag for those with a history of heart ailments.
As per smaller-level studies, marijuana overuse can also cause atrial fibrillation or ischemic stroke, which has a greater chance of happening within two hours of smoking marijuana. Thus, if you are a heart patient, it’ll be better if you stay away from marijuana. There is a need to conduct more large-scale studies to establish more links between marijuana and heart disease, but initial research points towards a big risk in those with heart diseases.
The bottom line
Yes, there are 50-50 chances that marijuana smoking gives you a heart attack. But, if you smoke, let’s say one dose per month or 10-20 a year, it may not pose a big problem to you. If you are a regular pot smoker and can’t live without consuming marijuana every day. It’s high time to get yourself checked for any heart complications. Even if you are feeling perfectly alright, you should visit the hospital today itself. Early warning signs from the doctor can sometimes save you from much bigger problems.