Smoking or vaping cannabis could trigger heart attacks and palpitations

insider@insider.com (Julia Naftulin)
·2 mins read
medical marijuana cbd hemp weed smoking joint leafly flowers 0238
medical marijuana cbd hemp weed smoking joint leafly flowers 0238

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  • In a new letter, American Heart Association doctors advised against smoking and vaping cannabis because it could contribute to heart-health problems like heart palpitations and attacks.

  • The doctors said current cannabis users should avoid black-market products and consider using edible or topical cannabis products because they're less likely to cause heart damage.

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The American Heart Association is warning people that smoking or vaping cannabis could create an increased risk for long-term heart-health problems.

In some cases, inhaling the substance could trigger a heart attack or palpitations, AHA doctors said in a new report based on previous research.

That's because THC, the main psychoactive component in cannabis that gives users a high, can cause the arteries to constrict and blood pressure to rise, leading to such a response.

And previous research suggests cannabis smokers and vape users who inhale the substance regularly could develop carbon-monoxide buildup in the lungs, which may contribute to permanent heart damage.

This evidence led AHA doctors to advise people to abstain from cannabis smoking and vaping if possible.

Edible cannabis could be a safer alternative for heart health

The doctors who penned the statement said cannabis users should weigh the risks of using the substance with its potential benefits.

For some, cannabis use provides relief from chronic pain, anxiety, and depression.

The authors also said certain forms of cannabis use could be less harmful than smoking or vaping when it comes to heart health.

"If people choose to use cannabis for its medicinal or recreational effects, the oral and topical forms, for which doses can be measured, may reduce some of the potential harms," clinical pharmacologist and lead statement author Dr. Robert Page II said in a statement.

Page added that cannabis users should stay away from black-market products and only purchases legal cannabis because its quality is regulated.

Research hasn't found a direct link between cannabis use and heart problems

There were caveats to the doctors' suggestions.

The studies they cited throughout their paper were short-term and used self-reported data, so experts couldn't conclude whether cannabis use directly causes heart attacks and palpitations.

For that reason, Page said there's an "urgent" need for more in-depth and conclusive studies on potential links between cannabis use and heart health.

Additionally, some research has shown CBD, one of the non-psychoactive components in cannabis, could potentially be beneficial for the heart due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

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