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Can Using Cannabis Cause Heart Palpitations?

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Cannabis has a complex relationship with the heart and has positive and negative cardiovascular effects, depending on heart health and how much cannabis is used.

Some research suggests that cannabis users are more likely to experience heart palpitations, the most common being sinus tachycardia (when your body sends out electrical signals to make your heart beat faster) with higher doses. Interestingly, cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can also cause peripheral vasodilation, which means your blood vessels and arteries can dilate and drop your blood pressure.

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Can Marijuana Cause Heart Palpitations?

Yes, cannabis can cause heart palpitations, especially in those with a history of heart problems and cardiac arrhythmia. The most common types of palpitations are:

  • Sinus tachycardia, which is when the heart beats faster than normal.
  • Sinus bradycardia is a decrease in heart rate, with the sinoatrial node firing less than 60 times per minute.
  • Second-degree atrioventricular block is when the electrical signals that tell your heart to contract don’t always pass between the top and bottom chambers of your heart as they should. This causes arrhythmias.
  • Atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.

This means that cannabis has the potential to both speed up and slow down the heart rate and blood pressure.

Marijuana’s Impact on Heart Health

Marijuana’s impact on and relationship with heart health is complex, with potential positives and negatives.

Potential Benefits

  • One study states that “[a] single ultra low dose of THC before ischemia is a safe and effective treatment that reduces myocardial ischemic damage.” This means that cannabinoids may help reduce damage to the heart after a heart attack.
  • Myrcene may be particularly helpful for reducing damage after a heart attack or stroke.
  • Cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) may help reduce inflammation associated with ischemic heart disease. CBD also has cardioprotective and neuroprotective effects that may reduce the chances of a heart attack or the damage caused by a heart attack or stroke.
  • Cannabis can help reduce hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Cannabis contains many cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that can help decrease stress and inflammation.
  • Medical cannabis may be used to manage metabolic syndrome (a combination of high BMI, hypertension, and diabetes).
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Potential Negatives

  • Some studies show a correlation between marijuana use and increased heart attack, heart disease, or stroke risk.
  • There may be an initial increase in blood pressure before a decrease, especially with THC-rich cannabis. This can be an issue for those who need to keep their heart rate down.
  • Smoking cannabis (or smoking anything, for that matter) is not ideal for heart health.
  • Cannabinoids like CBD may interfere with medications like warfarin, a blood thinner used to treat blood clots.
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What to Consider If You Have a Heart Condition and Use Cannabis

There are a significant number of both positives and negatives when it comes to cannabis use and its impact on the heart. Those who suffer from a heart problem but also require medical cannabis ought to speak to their physician. Some health problems impact the heart that cannabis can manage (e.g., diabetes, weight problems), whereas other health problems that affect the heart may be worsened by cannabis use.

Some ways to mitigate the negative impact of cannabis on the heart include:

The Bottom Line

Cannabis has a complex relationship with heart health, and we know little about how various cannabinoids affect the crucial organ. In some instances, cannabis may help re-regulate the heart and reduce heart palpitations; in other cases, it may worsen heart palpitations.

Cannabis’ impact on heart health depends very much on the dose taken, individual circumstances, and what condition is being treated. More research is needed in this area before we can make any definitive judgments. However, it does seem that smoking cannabis, in particular, can cause heart palpitations in some people.

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