Is Smoking Weed Bad for Your Heart?

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Given this, you could posit that smoking weed is a double whammy of impairment, but that edibles only provide a single avenue to potential heart effects, making them a better but not completely risk-averse option. The jury’s still out, but in Dr. Chandy’s view, “It doesn’t matter what form you’re taking with respect to smoking, vaping, or taking [THC] in orally, there’s data not just from our paper but from other clinical studies showing that it can cause adverse effects [to the heart].”

Here’s how this all stacks up to booze, heart-health-wise.

It’s a bit of a game of apple (martinis) versus orange (kush) here. Alcohol and weed work very differently in your body. The former works to depress the central nervous system, temporarily putting your brain in chill mode while the liver metabolizes it; the latter conversely activates the endocannabinoid receptors in your brain.

However, we can say with certainty that the more of either thing you use, the more potential for cardiological trouble it comes with. Correlations between increased amounts of either substance are associated with higher risks for your heart. “There is definitely a dose-dependent response,” Dr. Chandy says. In the past few years, leading health organizations have come out against any alcohol use. The World Heart Federation says that for each 100 grams of alcohol per week that you drink (around 12.5 units or six-ish glasses of wine), you raise your risk of stroke by 14%, heart failure by 9%, and coronary disease by 6%.

At the end of the day (perhaps the kind where you really need a drink?), we’re talking about correlation, not causality. That means that the more you drink or consume THC, the higher the chance either of those things might affect your heart; however, just because you occasionally drink or pop an edible does not definitively mean you’ll absolutely have heart-related issues. Cheers to that?

What about if you only use weed occasionally—that’s probably better, right?

Yeah, it seems like it. According to Dr. Chandy, “[The harm] does seem to be correlated with the amount that’s used.” His team looked at folks who smoked three to five times a week and saw more inflammatory markers or signals that people were likely to have a heart attack when they took THC, and because of this they believe the potential damage will depend on how often you use it and how potent it is.

That last bit is significant because, as Dr. Chandy says, “In the ’60s and ’70s, the concentration was no more than 3%, and now you can vape 85% pure THC.”

Dr. DeFilippis says that because recreational marijuana products aren’t regulated, they “vary considerably in dose, concentration, and labeling.” Theoretically, lower concentrations of THC in edibles should result in a lower risk of cardiac or vascular issues (though you won’t dodge them altogether). If you’re buying edibles in a state that legally sells them, take note of what the percentage or gram dosage of THC is—it should be on the packaging. On edibles, you’ll see the percentage of THC per serving (in grams) and in the entire container, which allows you to monitor your consumption. In pens or other inhalable options, you’ll find just the percentage of THC that you’ll consume. Again, for your heart, the lower the percentage of THC here, the better.

Here’s the bottom line about what we know about cannabis and heart health so far.

It’s honestly kind of TBD on CBD—but that’s where things look most promising in terms of getting stoned for wellness reasons. CBD seems to have some support for lowering blood pressure through a process called vasorelaxation, which has been shown to help relax the arteries of rats, but the jury’s still out since rodents are not, you know, people. Another smaller study seemed to indicate that medical cannabis lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure in older adults.


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