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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.

3 reasons why weed races your heart

It’s not always that you get a racing heart after lighting up, but occasionally, you will.

For those who have experienced it the feeling is can be frightening, especially if you had expected the weed to calm you down.

You may even find yourself rushing to the ER. Getting yourself acquainted with why this happens will give you a head start in getting those palpitations under control.

A note on palpitations

You have palpitations when you can “feel your heart thumping in your chest.” This usually occurs when blood supply to vital organs has diminished for one reason or the other.

When this happens, the heart has to work harder to continue supplying blood where it is needed.

It is this increased effort by the heart that makes you feel as if your heart is racing. Medically speaking, this is called palpitations.

High THC strains

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in weed is the first culprit that may cause palpitations. THC is a vasodilator which is just a fancy term for saying it causes blood vessels to expand.

When this happens, blood pressure in the vessels is lowered and blood supply to vital organs is diminished.

THC activates the CB1 receptors in the brain and this increases the heart rate by 20-50 beats per minute.

This happens to counter the diminishing BP and helps the heart keep up with oxygen supply demands. Eventually, it results in a racing heart.

Some reports indicate that high THC strains may increase the work of the heart by 30 %.

If you notice that you are getting frequent palpitations after having some weed, rule out high THC strains fast.

You opt for strains with less than 10% THC such as Euphoria and Special Kush. The other option is micro-dosing.

This is when you take very small amounts of weed at regular intervals.

This way, you get to enjoy the benefits of THC while avoiding its psychoactive effects.

The Strain

Sativas are known to be more invigorating and energizing. Sativa dominant strains, for this reason, are more prone to giving you palpitations.

If you notice that you get palpitations frequently, consider the kind of strain that you are taking.

You may be surprised to find a link between Sativa dominant strains and your palpitations. If this is the case, consider adjusting to indica strains or balanced hybrid strains.

Taking too much potent weed

As much as THC should have relaxing effects on your body and mind, taking too much of it can do the opposite.

Some people begin toking and get carried away by the pleasant sensations that they tend to overindulge.

This happens especially when one is using dabs and concentrates such as wax, hash oil and shatter. The situation is worse when the person had taken alcohol prior.

In this case, the absorption of THC would even be higher. This will cause the heart to beat faster in order to counter the effects of the fast-rising THC levels.

Lastly, some people are naturally predisposed to heart palpitations. This can be due to underlying heart conditions or hypersensitivity to some compounds.

If you happen to be one of them, steer clear of high THC strains or strong sativas. You made also want to “advance judiciously” each time that you are toking.

This way, you will be able to control the effects and stop when you need to.

How to reduce heart rate after smoking weed

Do not panic

As much as this may be difficult, it is one of the most useful tips that you can practice. Try to be calm and wait for the palpitations to reduce.

Panicking will only worsen the situation be further increasing your heart rate.

Practice some relaxation techniques

As soon as you notice your heart racing get out to some fresh air and try natural remedies to calm your heart.

This may include the good old “breath in-breath out” technique. If you are a yoga enthusiast a few poses may be all you need to calm your heart down.

Lying down in a place that is well ventilated may also prove helpful. The bottom line here is, get out and relax.

Hydrate

Water is good for building up your blood volume which will result in increased blood pressure. Remember that THC causes vasodilation and decreased blood pressure.

So taking water will help in restoring BP and reducing palpitations. Sipping water also helps in reducing anxiety.

Stimulating the vagus nerve

Some people swear by this technique. The vagus nerve links the brain to the heart, when it is stimulated it can help to calm down the heart and reduce palpitations.

This can be done practically by:

  • Forcing yourself to gag
  • Placing ice cubes on your face for a few seconds
  • Holding your breath as you pretend to be making a bowel movement
  • Coughing gently
  • Splashing cold water on your face

There are a few other techniques that you can use to stimulate the vagus nerve. Trying a few of these may help in slowing down your racing heart.

At the end of the day, rest assured that this is normal and happens either due to high THC levels, potent Sativa strains or overindulgence.

As the effects of the weed begin to wear out, the palpitations will also disappear.

For a regular user, expect the palpitations to stop within 4 hours or so.

A last word of caution

Should you be suffering from a heart condition you may need to rush to the ER when you get palpitations.

First, you need to rule out any other reason apart from the ones mentioned above that may be giving you the symptoms.

Secondly, THC in and of itself does not cause fatal eventualities. But should there be an underlying heart condition the situation may quickly get out of control.

Here are the top 3 reasons why smoking weed races your heart ]]>