heart races after smoking weed

Marijuana made my heart pound

I recently smoked marijuana, and while I was stoned, my heart pounded rapidly. Is this a normal effect of the drug, an allergic reaction, or something else??

It’s hard to definitively determine what caused your heart to pound, but there are multiple possibilities. It might be that you experienced it as a common side effect of marijuana use. It’s also possible that your experience was due to feeling anxious, which could have been induced or exacerbated by marijuana use. Another reason for this is that your marijuana was laced with another substance which caused a sudden rapid heartbeat. Although allergic reactions to marijuana have been reported, a rapidly pounding heart hasn’t been one of the symptoms associated with this reaction. But regardless of what the cause is, a pounding heart isn’t something to be taken lightly. As such, if you have another similar experience, speaking with your health care provider can help determine the cause and help prevent future recurrences. Interested in “hashing” this out more? Keep on reading!

Before skipping a beat, it may be helpful to know what happens to your body when you smoke marijuana. When smoked, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can affect the body by inducing feelings of euphoria, heightening relaxation, increasing a person’s heart rate and blood pressure, altering senses and perceptions of time, or triggering anxiety, fear, or panic. However, it’s worth mentioning that not all “highs” are experienced the same way, as side effects may vary from person to person. They may also differ depending on how much marijuana a person has smoked or eaten and the type of marijuana being used. It’s possible that you experienced a common side effect that others don’t or may not experience to the same degree (to learn more, check out Moderate marijuana use and health effects?).

As alluded to earlier, the relationship between marijuana and anxiety can be complicated. Sometimes, people choose to use marijuana to help ease their anxiety. However, while marijuana helps some people relax, it may induce or exacerbate anxiety in others. For some people, the uncertainty surrounding their marijuana experience might cause them to develop symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, such as a racing heart. For others with generalized anxiety disorder, marijuana may encourage negative thinking which can also worsen their symptoms and lead to a racing heart. As such, if you suspect or know you have anxiety and are likely to experience similar uncomfortable reactions, you may choose to avoid using marijuana in the future.

While it’s possible that the marijuana itself made your heart pound, it might also be that the marijuana you smoked was mixed with another drug. Sometimes, marijuana is cut with hallucinogens (such as PCP) or other substances that may cause serious adverse effects. Some of these effects can include heart arrhythmia (irregular heart beating), chest pains, sudden high blood pressure, and heart attack. Keep in mind that unless you get marijuana from a regulated dispensary, it can be hard to know what you’re getting since there are many inconsistencies with drugs that aren’t legalized.

Regardless, a rapidly-pounding heart is to which you’ll want to pay attention. If you notice it happening under any other circumstances, especially if it begins to happen more frequently, speaking with your health care provider is strongly advised. Likewise, you may want to think about whether or not you’re interested in continuing to smoke marijuana and weigh the pros and cons of doing so now that you know a bit more about what may have contributed to your experiences.

Dear Alice, I recently smoked marijuana, and while I was stoned, my heart pounded rapidly. Is this a normal effect of the drug, an allergic reaction, or something else??

Increased Heart Rate

Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Whether you’re taking medical marijuana, over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs, it’s essential to know the potential side effects of your medication. One of the possible side effects of medical weed your physician should discuss with you is an increased heart rate.

Possible Side Effects of Medical Weed

When you begin using medical marijuana, you may experience a range of side effects, such as red eyes or hunger. However, in some instances, your physician may recommend medical cannabis because of its side effects. Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, for example, may rely on medical pot as an appetite stimulant.

As a patient of a licensed and compassionate medical marijuana doctor, you can trust they’re weighing the side effects of medical weed against the benefits. In their role as a practitioner, they want to create a treatment plan that offers more advantages than disadvantages.

How Does Medical Weed Cause an Increased Heart Rate?

Like other potential side effects of medical weed, cannabinoids are the cause. More than 100 different cannabinoids are present in cannabis, but the two primary ones are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Researchers believe THC is responsible for increasing users’ heart rates.

When you take medical marijuana, THC expands your blood vessels. For patients with high blood pressure, this reaction is a positive, as it lowers their blood pressure. When your heart recognizes this sudden change in pressure, however, it begins to pump faster.

Signs of an Increased Heart Rate From Medical Cannabis

The most noticeable symptom of an increased heart rate is feeling like your heart is racing or pounding — if you’ve ever consumed too much caffeine, the experience is almost identical. Measure your heart rate by taking your pulse — a normal range for adults is 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM).

Long-Term Side Effects of an Increased Heart Rate

An increased heart rate from medical marijuana wears off with your medication but can last up to three hours. While a constant elevated heart rate, called tachyarrhythmia, does pose risks to your health, a brief boost due to exercise or medical weed does not.

Having concerns over this side effect is understandable, especially if your cardiovascular health isn’t the best. That’s why it’s critical to meet with your medical marijuana physician and cardiologist to discuss your use of medical cannabis, as well as how you could prevent this side effect.

How to Avoid and Manage an Increased Heart Rate From Medical Marijuana

A few techniques for managing medical marijuana-induced heart rate increases include:

  • Choose Strains With Low THC: Because THC increases heart rates, find an indica strain with a low-THC, high-CBD content. Your local dispensary should have these available, as many patients prefer CBD’s ability to limit the psychoactive effects of THC.
  • Adopt a Micro-Dosing Schedule: For patients who are just starting to use medical marijuana, micro-dosing helps your body adjust to medical weed. It also prevents you from consuming too much medical pot in a short period, since you wait 20 to 30 minutes between doses.

Before modifying your treatment, it’s essential you meet with your physician.

Talk to Your Medical Marijuana Doctor About Your Increased Heart Rate

While an increased heart rate often makes patients nervous about using medical pot, many medical cannabis physicians feel the pros of medical marijuana outweigh this potential con. Plus, they’ll work to alleviate this side effect if you experience it. No matter what kind of side effect you’re experiencing from cannabis, it’s critical to schedule an appointment with your medical marijuana doctor to talk about it.

Learn why some cannabis users experience increased heart rate as a side effect and how to combat side effects to get the most out of your cannabis.