Science Says Marijuana Ups Risk of Broken Heart Syndrome

Weed is hard on your heart, and it's less romantic than it sounds.

A new study conducted by researchers at St Luke’s University in Pennsylvania has uncovered evidence that a rare heart condition, stress cardiomyopathy, may be less rare in people who use weed. Stress cardiomyopathy—colloquially known as Broken Heart Syndrome—is a temporary weakening of the heart muscles, triggered by stress.

After analyzing data from 33,343 Americans who were hospitalized with stress cardiomyopathy between 2003 and 2011, St Luke’s Dr. Amitoj Singh concluded: “The effects of marijuana, especially on the cardiovascular system, are not well known yet.” However, “people need to know that marijuana may be harmful to the heart and blood vessels in some people.”

The distress is usually temporary, although the condition can lead to heart failure, in which case damage can be permanent. 

Dr. Singh’s report was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions meeting in New Orleans. It found, in fact, that pot users within the study group were almost twice as susceptible as nonusers to being hit by a stress cardiomyopathy episode that would require a trip to urgent care.

In the throes of Broken Heart Syndrome, the heart struggles to pump blood at a body’s accustomed rate. The resulting chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fainting can lead sufferers to believe they are in the middle of a full-on heart attack.

Say you or someone you love blasts a fat dab and experiences these symptoms. Take a couple of deep breaths. See if the bum feelings clear out. If not, consider following Dr. Singh’s doctors orders:

“If you are using marijuana and develop symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath, you should be evaluated by a healthcare provider to make sure you aren’t having stress cardiomyopathy or another heart problem.”

The distress is usually temporary, although the condition can lead to heart failure, in which case damage can be permanent. Also, not to be feeding into pot-related hypochondria, but weed fiends who experience cardiomyopathy are apparently “significantly more likely” than non-users to lapse into cardiac arrest.

Not every user is giving this study the serious consideration it would seem to merit.