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when i smoke weed my heart races

Marijuana made my heart pound

I recently smoked marijuana, and while I was stoned, my heart pounded rapidly. Is this a normal effect of the drug, an allergic reaction, or something else??

It’s hard to definitively determine what caused your heart to pound, but there are multiple possibilities. It might be that you experienced it as a common side effect of marijuana use. It’s also possible that your experience was due to feeling anxious, which could have been induced or exacerbated by marijuana use. Another reason for this is that your marijuana was laced with another substance which caused a sudden rapid heartbeat. Although allergic reactions to marijuana have been reported, a rapidly pounding heart hasn’t been one of the symptoms associated with this reaction. But regardless of what the cause is, a pounding heart isn’t something to be taken lightly. As such, if you have another similar experience, speaking with your health care provider can help determine the cause and help prevent future recurrences. Interested in “hashing” this out more? Keep on reading!

Before skipping a beat, it may be helpful to know what happens to your body when you smoke marijuana. When smoked, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can affect the body by inducing feelings of euphoria, heightening relaxation, increasing a person’s heart rate and blood pressure, altering senses and perceptions of time, or triggering anxiety, fear, or panic. However, it’s worth mentioning that not all “highs” are experienced the same way, as side effects may vary from person to person. They may also differ depending on how much marijuana a person has smoked or eaten and the type of marijuana being used. It’s possible that you experienced a common side effect that others don’t or may not experience to the same degree (to learn more, check out Moderate marijuana use and health effects?).

As alluded to earlier, the relationship between marijuana and anxiety can be complicated. Sometimes, people choose to use marijuana to help ease their anxiety. However, while marijuana helps some people relax, it may induce or exacerbate anxiety in others. For some people, the uncertainty surrounding their marijuana experience might cause them to develop symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, such as a racing heart. For others with generalized anxiety disorder, marijuana may encourage negative thinking which can also worsen their symptoms and lead to a racing heart. As such, if you suspect or know you have anxiety and are likely to experience similar uncomfortable reactions, you may choose to avoid using marijuana in the future.

While it’s possible that the marijuana itself made your heart pound, it might also be that the marijuana you smoked was mixed with another drug. Sometimes, marijuana is cut with hallucinogens (such as PCP) or other substances that may cause serious adverse effects. Some of these effects can include heart arrhythmia (irregular heart beating), chest pains, sudden high blood pressure, and heart attack. Keep in mind that unless you get marijuana from a regulated dispensary, it can be hard to know what you’re getting since there are many inconsistencies with drugs that aren’t legalized.

Regardless, a rapidly-pounding heart is to which you’ll want to pay attention. If you notice it happening under any other circumstances, especially if it begins to happen more frequently, speaking with your health care provider is strongly advised. Likewise, you may want to think about whether or not you’re interested in continuing to smoke marijuana and weigh the pros and cons of doing so now that you know a bit more about what may have contributed to your experiences.

Dear Alice, I recently smoked marijuana, and while I was stoned, my heart pounded rapidly. Is this a normal effect of the drug, an allergic reaction, or something else??

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.