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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
A few techniques for managing medical marijuana-induced heart rate increases include:
Before modifying your treatment, it’s essential you meet with your physician.
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.