Cannabis and Chest Pain: Let’s Understand the Relationship
In the past few years, cannabis has gained a lot of popularity among masses. All thanks to the long list of health benefits it offers! And due to it being used as a medicine, people usually consider marijuana a lot safer than other abusive drugs, such as opioids. But is it really this safe? Just like any other medicine, cannabis too has its share of side effects. In fact, the herb is very well known for its psychotic effects, ranging from mild impairment of memory and coordination to extreme paranoia for some people.
Consuming cannabis may also induce some physical effects, such as dizziness and dry mouth, etc. And chest pain is also one of the potential side effects of cannabis consumption in some cases.
No doubt, a lot of people usually ignore the respiratory health effects of smoking cannabis due to its numerous other medicinal benefits. But if we think about it on a physiological level, why does smoking cannabis cause chest pain for some people? And when it does, is it really a good idea to ignore it?
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Causes of Chest Pain Other than Cannabis
When someone generally has chest pain, it’s not very easy to determine if it’s just a normal pain or is something serious that may require medical attention. So, as a basic rule, it is recommended you contact your doctor immediately if the chest pain:
- Is very extreme
- Starts suddenly
- Lasts for a long time, i.e. more than 15 minutes
- Occurs while exercising
- Is spreading to the left arm, upper back, and jaw
- Is accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, dizziness, shortness of breath, etc.
However, you should note that these symptoms aren’t the only ones you need to look for if you have chest pain. And thus, even if you don’t see any of these, you should consult the doctor, especially if the person has a family history of heart-related diseases.
When a person has chest pain, their usual instinct is often panic. However, there can be several different reasons for this pain, such as pulled muscles, lung infection, panic attacks, etc. And most of the time they are not a cause for serious concern.
Cannabis can also be one of the reasons for chest pain. In fact, it is a very well known fact that smoking cannabis can cause lung problems. But did you know it has some effects on your heart too? Let’s understand how.
Effects of Weed on Heart
Consuming cannabis has the ability to activate the sympathetic nervous system, which may result in increased blood pressure and heart rate. And due to this effect, the amount of oxygen reaching the heart muscle also decreases, which can be very harmful to people with heart diseases.
A report published in 2010 mentions two separate cases where people were taken to a hospital because of chest pain after smoking cannabis. There were no symptoms of cardiovascular disease found in any of these cases. However, both men had severe blood clots in the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscles.
Another study published in 2014 found that, between the years 2006 and 2010, out of all the people who experienced some kind of adverse effects due to smoking cannabis, nearly 1.8 percent had some kind of cardiovascular disease. In this timeframe, researchers came across 22 cardiac complications. And out of these, 9 resulted in death.
The above data shows that cannabis does have a relationship with heart diseases. And this is particularly true for people who have a family history of heart diseases.
Now, let’s see how it affects our lungs.
The Relation between Smoking Cannabis and Chest Pain
We all probably know that smoking is not really good for our lungs. However, surprisingly, smoking cannabis can be even worse than tobacco.
Yes, cannabis has some amazing effects on health. But many people don’t know that it contains many similar chemicals as in tobacco. Also, cannabis is still illegal in many places. And therefore, the testing of these products is not very rigorous, which results in low-quality, contaminated products.
One very common contaminant found in cannabis is aspergillus mold. This particular mold, if inhaled, can cause very serious lung infection. And this infection can cause severe pain in the chest and may also lead to pneumonia. In some extreme cases, this type of lung infection may even result in death.
One more reason why smoking cannabis is worse than cigarettes is that while smoking cannabis, people inhale the smoke much deeper and longer. And due to this reason, experts estimate that smoking a marijuana joint is 2.5 to 5 times more dangerous than cigarette smoking.
Smoking cannabis can also cause inflammation and irritation in airways, which increases the risk of bronchitis. And it is sometimes associated with pneumothorax too. However, the relationship between cannabis and lung cancer is still unknown.
Other Cannabis-Induced Health Issues that may cause Chest Pain
A major downside of consuming cannabis is anxiety. And while for most people it is very mild and easy, for some, it can convert into an extreme panic attack. The symptoms of a panic attack are sometimes quite similar to a heart attack, which include sweating, heavy breathing, a feeling of doom, and obviously chest pain.
Now, if someone who frequently has a panic attack can identify the symptoms easily. However, if it is happening for the first time with someone, it can be extremely frightening, especially if they are high on cannabis.
Luckily, panic attacks don’t usually last very long. And you’ll feel okay after a few minutes. However, if you are not sure of the reason behind the symptoms, contact a doctor immediately.
Cannabis is very well known for its positive effects on our health. Plus, smoking weed is generally considered a lot safer than smoking cigarettes. However, as we saw above, smoking cannabis may also cause some heart and lung disease. Plus, it may induce panic attacks sometimes. And all these conditions can be a potential cause of chest pain, which can be really scary, especially if it’s happening to you for the first time.
You should note that chest pain doesn’t necessarily mean there is a major problem. However, it’s still a good idea to contact your MMJ doctor if you have one. Be sure you tell your doctor about your cannabis use and family history of heart-related diseases, if any so that they can help you in the best possible way.
You should also consider switching your consumption method if you frequently feel the pain in your chest after smoking cannabis. This will give your lungs a necessary break.
In the end, just consume your cannabis responsibly.