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Marijuana's Effect On Your Heart: Everything You Need to Know

By Kyle Kirkland
Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Casarella, MD on December 18, 2021
Studies are limited, but it may be possible for regular pot use to affect your heart in a few different ways.

Your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood through your body every day. With the amount of energy required to work correctly, it’s important to keep your ticker as healthy as possible.

Even if you use medical marijuana under the direction of a health care professional, you should be aware of any potential side effects. Your current health and the way you use pot (such as smoking it in a joint or pipe, or eating it in edibles) may play roles in terms of how it affects your heart.

Is Weed Bad for Your Heart? 

Using marijuana could take a toll on your heart and blood vessels, the American Heart Association (AHA) says. But more research is needed. The AHA says that studies into pot’s effects on the heart have been limited, because federal red tape restricts scientists’ ability to do high-quality research on the drug.

“In considering the effects of marijuana on the heart, one needs to think about how and why it is used,” Matthew Mintz, MD, an internal medicine physician, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “Smoking is not good for the heart, as it increases inflammation and potentiates the clogging up of the arteries which can lead to heart attack and stroke.” 

“Cannabis can temporarily increase the blood pressure and heart rate, which could theoretically increase the risk of heart attack and stroke; however, this is almost never seen with medicinal cannabis,” Mintz says. THC, the main mind-altering ingredient in marijuana, “may promote vascular inflammation and oxidative stress in the artery walls,” he says. But CBD, a compound in pot that doesn’t make you high “can counteract this,” he adds.

A 2019 study in JACC Cardiovascular Imaging suggests that regular marijuana use might cause changes in the structure of your heart, but the negative effects may reverse once you stop using pot. 

Another 2019 study in the journal Medicina compared young adults who used cannabis to those who didn’t between 2007-2014. The researchers say they found “growing rates and rising trends in hospitalizations” among the pot users for conditions including:

  • Heart attack
  • Heartbeat rate or rhythm problems
  • Stroke

Rates of a blood clot condition called VTE, or venous thromboembolism, were lower among marijuana users, though, with rising trends in VTE hospital admissions in cannabis users and non-users. The study called for more scientific testing to understand the short- and long-term effects of marijuana use on the heart. 

With much research left to be done, you must talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions regarding marijuana’s effects on your heart. You shouldn’t assume that a healthy heart will be unaffected by pot use.  

Don’t Wait. Get Help Now.

If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana addiction, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help. 

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