Will Marijuana Hurt My Heart? | Hartford HealthCare

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March 26, 2024

Marijuana is slowly shedding its reputation as a street drug. For some users, its become a treatment for everything from nausea to anxiety to pain management.

But are you putting your heart at risk when you use marijuana? We asked Brad Biskup, PA-C, a lifestyle medicine and cardiovascular medicine specialist at the Hartford HealthCare Heart & Vascular Institute.

How you consume marijuana has a big impact

As it turns out, smoking anything — whether it’s cigarettes or marijuana — isn’t great for your heart.

“When you smoke marijuana, different toxins get into your lungs,” says Biskup. “That will put more stress on the heart.”

He says this applies to vaping, too.

“When you’re breathing anything into the lungs, there’s usually going to be other toxins that go with that. That’s why it’s much harder to get the different strains when you’re vaping. You can’t keep the marijuana and chemicals separated.”

As for edibles? It’s another unknown, Biskup says.

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Heart health involves more than marijuana

While the impact of marijuana on your heart depends on your health history, specific strain, and form of consumption, Biskup reminds us to look at the bigger picture.

“About 80 percent of heart disease is preventable by what we do in our lifestyle,” he says. “When we point out one thing, it’s never just one thing. You must look at all the different things and see how they add up over time.”

Stress and anxiety are notably hard on the heart, and medication isn’t always the whole answer.

“For me, it’s about how we deal with the cause first,” explains Biskup. “The six pillars of lifestyle medicine play a big part. Nutrition, physical activity, stress management, the avoidance of risky substances, restorative sleep and social connection are the core of our health. The body is really good about healing itself if we just allow it to.”

> Related: Why Exercising on the Weekend May Be Just as Good as Daily Workouts

Rely on your doctor

You may be hesitant to tell your doctor about your marijuana use, but it’s a good idea to do so.

“When we look at marijuana, is it being used safely? When you’re taking anything, whether it’s marijuana or even supplements, these are all medicines that need to be monitored,” says Biskup

It’s even more important if you have any pre-existing cardiovascular health issues.

“If you’re taking medicinal marijuana, the biggest thing is to look at your lab work,” says Biskup. “We want to watch the normal markers of blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol to see if this is the right medicine for you.”

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