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Marijuana’s Horrifying Effect On Your Heart Is Something Nobody Ever Tells You

More states than ever are legalizing marijuana in some form, whether for medical usage or not. And even more Americans are totally on board. The positive effects of this plant are well-documented, as it can help with symptoms for various diseases. But there’s also a darker side to marijuana that’s rarely talked about.

As it turns out, this “harmless” drug can actually have devastating effects on your heart. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.

1. Marijuana raises your heart rate dramatically

Like exercise, pot could set your heart racing. | iStock

On average, your heart rate should stay somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute, Mayo Clinic says. And generally speaking, the lower the better, as this signifies a more efficient heart. A high heart rate for extended periods of time can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and even cardiac arrest in some cases.

Everyday Health explains marijuana usage can raise your heart rate as much as 100%. This typically happens right after smoking, but can also last for several hours afterward.

Next: A smoking habit might lead to a strange fluttering in your chest after awhile.

2. Usage can lead to irregular heartbeats

Pot could mess with your heart. | iStock

Dr. Shereif Rezkalla, a cardiologist who studies marijuana, says there’s a lot of evidence to support that marijuana can indeed have a therapeutic effect on many, Live Science reports. But, Rezkalla says “clinical evidence also suggests the potential for serious cardiovascular risks.” These risks include developing irregular heartbeats.

Everyday Health explains abnormal heart rhythms can be dangerous, as they can increase the risk of stroke or cardiac arrest.

Next: This, unfortunately, can also happen to your heart.

3. Smoking pot can weaken the heart overall

Pot can weaken heart muscles. | iStock.com

Marijuana doesn’t just impact the way your heart beats. As evidenced by a 2016 study, CNN reports smoking pot regularly can weaken the heart muscles, especially in younger men.

The heart condition itself is known as stress cardiomyopathy, and it more commonly occurs in those who experience sudden stress or grief. Your heart muscles weaken temporarily, which prevents the heart from properly pumping. The lead investigator of the study found marijuana usage has been linked to at least two cases of this syndrome.

Next: Marijuana usage is linked to a higher risk of these common (and deadly) conditions.

4. It increases both your stroke and heart attack risk

Pot could increase your chances for a stroke. | IStock.com/stockdevil

A study cited by ABC News reveals marijuana actually increases the risk of a heart attack “to fives times that of non-smokers” within the first hour of smoking. By the second hour, that risk lowers, but you’re still nearly twice as likely to go into cardiac arrest compared to someone who doesn’t use. The risk finally levels out by hour three.

Everyday Health notes your odds of having a stroke are also higher, as marijuana usage can damage artery function.

Next: This factor increases your chances of having heart issues even more.

5. If you have a history of heart disease, your risk for damage is even higher

If you have a history of heart disease, pot could be potentially dangerous. | iStock.com/RTimages

If you have a healthy heart, you’re at a much lower risk for having heart problems from marijuana. But the same can’t be said for those who have a history of heart disease. Even if you’ve never experienced a dangerous cardiovascular event yourself, you should know if heart issues run in your family and speak to a doctor about your risk.

Along with this, Harvard Health Publications says studies suggest smoking marijuana could increase the death rate for heart attack survivors in the long term.

Next: Marijuana affects other parts of your body, too.

6. Marijuana doesn’t just affect your heart, either

Pot use can lead to memory loss. | iStock/Getty Images

If you’re smoking regularly, you can expect plenty of side effects to your entire body. Long-term marijuana users are more likely to experience memory loss, says one 2016 study. And of course, since you’re inhaling smoke, you’re likely irritating your lungs. You can expect to experience wheezing, a prolonged cough, or inflammation in your airway over time.

On top of this, you’re also likely to have a slower reaction time and impair your ability to make good decisions, which can have plenty of consequences later on.

Next: Smoking pot isn’t a relaxing experience for everyone, either.

7. And in some cases, it can increase anxiety

Pot can increase anxiety. | iStock.com/OcusFocus

While many people ingest marijuana for its calming effects, not everyone will feel completely zen. Medical Daily explains certain studies have linked marijuana to making users feel more anxious than they would otherwise. There’s also research suggesting those who are prone to panic attacks are more likely to have anxiety when using marijuana.

Since weed can trigger hallucinations or give you a sense of “heightened significance,” other studies suggest you have an increased change of developing psychosis with long-term use as well.

The benefits of marijuana are well known, but is it really safe to use? Here are the effects on your heart health you don't know about, but should.

No Sign Pot Smoking Triggers Irregular Heartbeat

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 8, 2018 (HealthDay News) — If you have suffered a heart attack, getting high on pot won’t harm your heart’s regular rhythm, a new study suggests.

Marijuana users who have suffered a heart attack had about the same risk as nonusers of a rapid and irregular rhythm in the lower chambers of the heart, known as the ventricles, the researchers found.

“We found no difference in the two populations,” said senior researcher Dr. Christine Tompkins, a cardiologist with the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Further, marijuana users appeared to have lower rates of atrial fibrillation, an irregular rhythm in the upper chambers of the heart (the atria).

Half as many pot users had atrial fibrillation, about 4.5 percent compared with 8.7 percent of nonusers. Atrial fibrillation increases a person’s risk of stroke and heart attack.

Don’t feel free to get baked just yet, though. Both the researchers and a heart expert stressed that the jury is still out on exactly what the heart risks of smoking pot might be.

In fact, earlier research in the same group of patients found that marijuana use appears to increase the chances of having an earlier heart attack, Tompkins added.

The average age of a first heart attack was about 57 for the straight-laced, but 47 for cannabis users, Tompkins said.

“At this point, I have to say we don’t know the full cardiac effects of marijuana use,” Tompkins said. “We need to do additional studies.”

Colorado was one of the first states in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana, in 2012. At this point, a total of nine states have approved recreational pot use.

Given the wave of legalization, Tompkins and her colleagues decided this was the perfect time to assess the heart effects of marijuana use.

“We felt an obligation to look at the cardiac effects of cannabis use,” Tompkins said. “We still don’t know the long-term impact it has on one’s heart health.”

There’s strong evidence that weed has become more popular among people in late middle age and senior citizens. Federal data shows a 455 percent increase in marijuana use among U.S. adults aged 55 to 64 and a 333 percent jump in those aged 65 and older between 2002 and 2014.

Continued

The researchers reviewed medical records for nearly 1.3 million patients treated for heart attack between 1994 and 2013. Pot users were identified because they either admitted to use or had a positive toxicology screen for marijuana, Tompkins said.

There was no difference in risk for either an irregular or rapid heart rhythm in the ventricles between pot users and nonusers, and there was a decreased risk for atrial fibrillation in users, researchers found.

The findings were to be presented Thursday at the Heart Rhythm Society’s annual meeting, in Boston. Such research is considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Animal studies have found cannabinoid receptors reduce the risk of abnormal heart rhythm, Tompkins said. Pot also has been shown to alter the autonomic nervous system, which oversees the stability of heart rhythm.

On the other hand, the chemicals in marijuana also have been shown to promote clotting and cause blood vessels to constrict in some patients, two factors that increase heart attack risk, Tompkins said.

And other studies also have linked pot use to higher blood pressure and increased heart rate, said Dr. Mark Estes, director of the New England Cardiac Arrhythmia Center at Tufts University Medical Center in Boston.

“The information on the cardiovascular effects of marijuana is very, very limited, but the best evidence available would indicate there’s the potential for harm,” Estes said. “I don’t think people should be reassured by any means that smoking marijuana is safe.”

Half as many pot users had atrial fibrillation, about 4.5 percent compared with 8.7 percent of nonusers. Atrial fibrillation increases a person’s risk of stroke and heart attack.