With the legalization of marijuana, and medicinal uses of marijuana becoming increasingly more common, many patients may be wondering about the benefits, or risks, of marijuana use related to heart disease. This article breaks down everything you need to know about marijuana and its possible effects on the cardiovascular system.
How Marijuana Affects the Cardiovascular System: Marijuana is a psychoactive drug from the cannabis plant. When marijuana is ingested or smoked, the active ingredient THC passes into the bloodstream, carrying the chemical to organs throughout the body, including the brain and heart. Short-term physical effects of marijuana use include bloodshot eyes, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure.
Possible Long-Term Benefits: Though there is evidence which shows that marijuana usage increases blood pressure immediately after use, there is also a study which has shown that long-term use can be associated with decreased blood pressure, or hypertension. This paper further suggests that cannabis products may even offer protection against heart attacks.
Potential Long-Term Risks: While there may be benefits to the use of medicinal marijuana for heart conditions, there are also possible risks. Many scientists have developed research suggesting that the risk of stroke for users under the age of 45 is significantly higher than those who do not use the drug. Further, there are several scientific studies which have linked marijuana usage to heart attacks and strokes, though these links are usually limited to individuals smoking marijuana, rather than ingesting it through alternative means.
Should You use Marijuana for Heart Health? At this point, it is inconclusive whether marijuana usage imparts serious risks or benefits to the heart health of its users, as it’s unclear whether the harmful effects of marijuana are caused by the drug itself or through the act of smoking the drug. Currently, according to the CDC, there is not a strong case for healthy adults to either avoid or use marijuana. Because of this uncertainty, it’s important to discuss fully with your doctor to understand the possible risks and benefits of medical marijuana usage and assess whether marijuana usage is best for your situation. Have your blood pressure checked regularly and be sure to bring any immediate medical concerns to a licensed professional.
- Cardio Vascular Group, “Is Medical Marijuana Safe for Patients with Heart Problems?”
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Heart Health.”
- Drug Enforcement Administration, “Drug Fact Sheet: Marijuana / Cannabis.”