The Nuances Of Cannabis And Cardiovascular System

Across the U.S., marijuana legalization is spreading quickly like wildfire. Now, there are more people using it recreationally or medically depending on where they are.   For MMJ users who have been issued a certification by a marijuana doctor, they’ve been using medical cannabis to treat a qualifying condition as approved in the state where they’re issued the MMJ card and certificate.

For the majority, however, the long-term effects of marijuana on the heart are still unclear.   It is for the same reason that studies and researches have been done and others ongoing to examine and discover the truth.

More importantly, these studies have been conducted top find out the real score between MJ consumption after various arrhythmias and heart attack.

Now, researchers are a step closer to understanding the different effects of cannabis on the cardiovascular system. All these will lead to better patient care in the long-term.

Physiological Effects of Marijuana

The heart rate increases when you smoke marijuana; it is the same thing that happens when you smoke tobacco. If the two are then combined, the blood will have a reduced ability to transport and deliver oxygen to every cell of the body.   This happens due to combustion that produces carbon monoxide and other chemicals.

Marijuana effects also reach other body parts not just the heart and the brain. Users may also notice side effects, which may include problems with learning and memory, difficulty concentration, coordination loss and distorted perception.

These effects, which are triggered by the THC compounds, can wear off after two hours or less. However, the chemicals can stay in the body with a terminal half-life reaching up to 10 days. It will depend on the potency and amount of MJ used.

So for instance,   THC in your body will be 0.031 mg for more than four days after consumption. But then, the longer that it will stay in the body with a longer half-life.

In addition to these physiological effects, other side effects of marijuana smoking include health issues like emphysema, bronchitis and other lung disorders.  A few more include red eyes, dry mouth and impaired motor skills.

Cannabis smoking is also linked to heart attacks. And according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, it can also increase one’s risk of damaging not just the lungs but also the reproductive system.

Bottom line – Just as smoking tobacco isn’t healthy for the heart and lungs, smoking cannabis also is not recommended. It will also be more dangerous to combine the two because they can increase one’s risk to a heart attack while smoking. It is with absolute certainty that smoking can harm the blood’s ability to deliver oxygen.

Cardiovascular Effects of Marijuana

Researchers and scientists are certain about the immediate cardiovascular system effects of marijuana.  Studies had it smokers, who have heart disease and under stress, can develop chest pain faster if they’ve been smoking MJ than those who do not.

The reason behind it is cannabinoids’ effects on the heart and blood vessels. A few of these include dilated blood vessels, increased resting heart rate and increased heart pressure to pump harder.

Research also had it that people could have an increased risk of a heart attack while smoking marijuana.   That is without to say people who have a heart disease history should be warned. It must raise a red flag among them not to smoke MJ because they have an increased risk of chest pain.

More so, links to a higher ischemic stroke or atrial fibrillation, although not strongly established yet, is also initially concluded after marijuana use.

Cannabis use has been linked with different vascular conditions that then increase one’s risk of stroke and heart attack, according to a New England Journal of Medicine review article, even if the reasons it happens aren’t clear. Also, the review noted that this risk is linked with immediate marijuana use, not cumulative risk.

Bottom line, the blood pressure and heart rate increase with marijuana use, making the heart work harder. Your blood’s ability to transport oxygen to all the cells is also reduced.  Smokers with established heart disease can also increase their risk of chest pain and other heart problems following marijuana use.

New Studies and Research on Marijuana and Heart Health

Contrary to previous research and studies, a new research found that marijuana use doesn’t increase heart arrhythmias but can actually reduce atrial fibrillation risk.

Based on the new research, smoking the herb may not really be associated with an increased ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation risk after an acute heart attack or myocardial infarction.

In addition, the same study revealed that cannabis users experienced a reduced risk of in-hospital mortality and atrial fibrillation.

While more studies are needed to come to a conclusion on the real relationship between heart health and marijuana use, the latest findings contradict those that have been previously discovered.

But nevertheless, more research and studies on the link between cardiovascular health and marijuana use are needed.

That is about the latest about the relationship between marijuana use and cardiovascular system. Findings and results are mixed. But worry not, as more is on the way for a deeper understanding and possibly to a better patient care in the near future.



Gracie Evans


Gracie Evans is a freelance writer focused on medical marijuana and its health effects. She has been writing in this space after graduating from UNLV School of Medicine. Her main goal is to share her knowledge with people with medical conditions marijuana can help to treat.
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