Marijuana Said to Trigger Heart Attacks

30 10 2009

Heart attack risk medical marijuanaHere is something we found on the Harvard gazette website. Although the risk of having a marijuana associated hearth attack is very small (around 1 in 100,000) this news is very likely to be miss-used by the anti marijuana lobby.

Next time you hear some anti-drug nincompoop talk about how you can get a heart attack from cannabis, keep this in mind; The real risk applies only to die-hard couch potatoes and even for this high-risk (no pun intended) group, smoking medical marijuana is still less risky than running to catch your bus..


Marijuana can be hard on the heart. In the first hour after smoking pot, a person’s risk of a heart attack could rise almost five times, according to a Harvard University researcher.

As baby boomers born in the late 1940s and early 1950s reach the age at which heart disease is the leading cause of sickness and death, “we may see an increase in marijuana-associated heart attacks,” says Murray Mittleman, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health.

The possible medical uses of the drug are receiving more and more attention. Mittleman thinks such use may be a bad idea for people with heart disease.

The danger exists in the first hour after smoking pot, Mittleman told an American Heart Association meeting in San Diego today (March 2). “It causes the heart rate to increase by about 40 beats a minute,” he says. “Blood pressure increases then abruptly falls when the person stands up. This could precipitate a heart attack.”

Mittleman noted that, as an immediate trigger for heart attack, pot smoking is nearly twice as dangerous as sex for a sedentary person, exercise for a fit male or female, a tantrum of rage, or a bout of anxiety. But it’s less risky than a spurt of exercise for a couch potato or a snort of cocaine.

Despite the high percentage of people younger than 50 years old who report they use the drug – 12.5 percent – Mittleman doesn’t foresee an epidemic of pot-triggered heart attacks. For a 50-year-old baby boomer without other risk factors, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, the absolute risk of having a heart attack in the crucial first hour after smoking marijuana is one in 100,000, he says.

These findings come from a study of 3,882 people who survived heart attacks. It was conducted at a number of centers around the country, including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where Mittleman works. In the study, 124 people reported using marijuana regularly. Of these, 37 people said they used it within 24 hours of their heart attacks. Nine said they smoked it within an hour of their attacks.

From this data, the researchers conclude that the relative risk of a heart attack jumped 4.8 times within the first hour after smoking, then dropped to 1.7 times in the second hour. That’s still double the risk, but the drop indicates that the danger declines rapidly.

Mittleman admits he can’t explain exactly how pot could trigger a heart attack. It might be due to THC, the active ingredient of marijuana, or merely the smoke from a burning plant, he says. Smoking marijuana and tobacco both involve the latter, and both are now implicated in raising the risk of heart disease.



4 responses

16 12 2009

“It might be due to cannabis, the active ingredient of marijuana, or merely the smoke from a burning plant”

WOAH, hey now, cannabis is not an active ingredient of marijuana, it is the proper scientific term for the Cannabis Sativa/Indica plant and can refer to both the budding female plant and male hemp plant. I believe you meant
“It might be due to THC, the active ingredient of cannabis.”

It is important for advocates to use the terminology correctly, as any gaffs can an likely will be used against them.

Thanks, keep up the good work!

16 12 2009

Your absolutely right. I completely overlooked that mistake in the original article.. Thank you for your sharp eye emmettemme.

23 01 2011

This is completely true. I was a 17 year old healthy (abit under weight but not much) male. I was smoking weed for around 6 years and one time i smoked it was fine. Until the night after, I started to get chest pains, of course being 17 had no thought about it apart from maybe indigestion. This happened about 7 seperate times (over 2 or 3 days) until I finally asked my mum to drive me to the hospital because the pain was too unbearable. I don’t know why it happened to me, I never done another single drug for around 3 years other than nicotine and alchohol, but the alchohol not so much, twice a month maybe. Now this has effected my life so much, most days I think im not going to wake up and i’m pretty sure i am getting depressed over it. I’m 19 now (not long turned, last month) and as far as I know i’m fine but this definatly was not worth it. I still get the odd chest pain (not heart attack pains) but every time this occurs I think the worst. I wouldn’t ask people to stop smoking it for this since most of my friends do but just think about what COULD happen and believe me, it is definatly not worth the depression, the worry or if you’re unlucky, your life. Thankfully I am alive but I still worry a hell of alot and possibly will for the rest of my life.

5 07 2012

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