Can Weed Make Your Heart Beat Fast?
February is American Heart Month. Healthcare providers share wellness and lifestyle tips that can help you make informed choices to protect your cardiovascular health. Small changes in daily habits can help everyone reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
In the past twenty years, medical researchers have drawn a link between smoking and heart problems. By now, most people understand that tobacco products are dangerous to our health. And that there is a clear link between smoking tobacco and increased risks of both lung and cardiovascular health problems.
But what about smoking cannabis? Smokable or inhalable cannabis is the most popular route for most patients. During American Heart Month, here are some things physicians want you to know about smoking cannabis. And other alternative routes you might consider for medical marijuana.
Taking the Causes of Hypertension to Heart
There are many different lifestyle factors that contribute to hypertension. The first and most common cause has to do with a sedentary lifestyle. If you are overweight and you don’t get enough exercise daily, that can make it difficult to maintain normal systolic and diastolic levels.
What we eat on a daily basis also has a big impact on hypertension. Consumption of salt is a big problem because many of our favorite foods are loaded with unhealthy amounts of sodium. And it can hide in unexpected places, like your favorite instant ramen soup or diet sodas.
Other risk factors that can contribute to hypertension include:
- Age (over 65 years).
- Chronic stress.
- Consumption of alcohol.
- High intake of caffeine (coffee, sodas, or energy drinks).
- Poor sleep quality (insomnia).
- Family history of hypertension.
- Poor diet (not enough vegetables and fruit).
Hypertension can be more prevalent for persons of color of African or Caribbean descent. Individuals who have been diagnosed with conditions like diabetes or kidney disease are also at a higher risk of developing blood pressure problems.
How Does Hypertension Affect Your Body?
When your blood pressure is higher than normal, it can affect different parts of your body. And lead to life-threatening health conditions. Hypertension is often called the “silent killer” because you may not even know you have a problem.
The biggest threat to heart health is that hypertension can thicken your arteries. The higher-than-normal pressure of blood traveling through can make your arteries less elastic. Eventually, that can decrease the natural flow of blood and oxygen to your heart. This can lead to heart disease.
Other ways that hypertension can harm your body include the development of chest pain (angina), heart failure, and heart attack. When the heart does not receive adequate blood or oxygen, the heart muscle sustains severe damage. The longer the blood flow is restricted, the more damage is done to the heart.
Hypertension can also lead to kidney problems, which can be life-threatening for patients living with diabetes. Over time, hypertension can cause kidney disease.
Can Smokable Cannabis Contribute to High Blood Pressure?
While it is known that smoking tobacco can contribute to cardiovascular problems, there is a misconception that smoking medical marijuana is without risk. While it is true that cigarettes have over 5,000 chemicals (many of which are known carcinogens), some people may not realize that smoking (or vaping anything) can also pose a threat to heart health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many clinical studies have reported that smoking marijuana elevates hypertension. In fact, the CDC states that “marijuana smoke also delivers many of the same substances researchers have found in tobacco smoke—these substances are harmful to the lungs and cardiovascular system.”
However, there was a recent study conducted by the Soroka University Medical Center and the Faculty of Health Sciences in Israel that suggested the opposite may be true. Particularly for adults aged seventy (70) years or older. The study reported that there was a 24-hour reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure values three hours after cannabis administration.
Butane Exposure and Risks to Your Heart
How you smoke your medical marijuana can also have an impact on heart health. There are many new studies that reveal butane exposure can cause significant health risks. Many people don’t consider how much butane they may be inhaling by using a standard lighter.
Think about how many times you use a lighter for your pre-roll or pipe while inhaling marijuana smoke. You aren’t just getting cannabis in that inhalation, you are also drawing a quantity of butane into your body. Every single time.
Butane is found in pocket lighters, in-home gases, spray deodorants, and aerosol cooking sprays. Long-term and regular exposure to butane can increase the risk of developing cardiac tachyarrhythmia. Butane can desensitize the heart to catecholamines which are neurohormones that send nerve signals to other cells. Exposure to butane can also lead to cardiac arrest.
If you use smokable cannabis on a daily basis, consider changing to a different method of incineration. Hemp wicks are safer, affordable, and function in the same way as butane lighters. There are also new electric incinerator vapes for raw flower that eliminates the need for flame ignition.
Do Sativa or Indica Strains Have More Impact on Hypertension?
If you have experience as a patient using both Sativa and Indica strains, you probably know the answer to this question. Sativa dominant strains may create an uplifted and energetic mood. That also comes with the side effect of elevating your heart rate.
In comparison, Indica dominant strains can have the opposite effect on blood vessels. Some studies suggest that Indica cannabis may actually help lower hypertension. The blood vessels in your body may become more relaxed due to the typical sedating effects of an Indica strain.
No research implies that cannabis should be a daily therapy for hypertension. However, for patients who are using medical marijuana to help with pain symptoms, for example, it should be discussed with your doctor. If hypertension is a current health problem for you, your marijuana doctor may have suggested strains that are either pure Indica or Indica dominant. Or an alternate administration route you can try instead.
What Are Non-Inhalable Routes for Medical Cannabis?
Smokable or inhalable cannabis is not your only option if you are using medical marijuana to help with symptom management. There are many other different routes you can try that may work well for you.
Other non-smokable medical marijuana intake routes include:
- Tinctures (sublingual uptake).
If you are struggling with symptoms of anxiety and have problems with regulating hypertension (but want to continue to use smokable medical marijuana), you may want to explore CBD flower. Hemp bud has been shown in several clinical studies to reduce both anxiety and hypertension.
Patients may want to supplement their medical cannabis with clinical-grade CBD capsules. Or combine equal ratios of hemp flower with medical cannabis bud. This is a strategy many patients use also to enhance cannabidiol intake for other symptoms, such as inflammation.
Medical Advice About Cannabis for Patients Since 2016
Whether you are looking for more information on getting a St Petersburg medical marijuana card or visiting one of our other twenty-five (25) locations in Florida, contact DocMJ first. We are America’s largest medical cannabis healthcare provider, helping thousands of cannabis users make an informed choice about cannabis.