Why your chest might hurt after smoking weed
Marijuana use can offer a massive array of potential benefits for both medical and recreational consumers and is often viewed as the safest possible alternative due to its non-toxic status and very few side effects. Despite it’s growing popularity as a healthy alternative to either alcohol or pharmaceutical medications, there are a few possible adverse effects that should be taken into consideration. There is, of course, the potential of motor impairment, which might hinder your ability to drive, walk, or perform other essential tasks that require a fast reaction time, but the most uncomfortable is generally described as a pain or tightening of the chest that happens immediately after smoking weed. Here we will help you to understand the possible causes behind this negative reaction and offer alternative solutions that might help to ease this problem.
The effects of marijuana use on the lungs are impossible to deny. Though it is much safer than chemical laden cigarettes, there are still plenty of elements in cannabis that have the potential to inflame the lungs immediately after inhalation. This is caused by the body as it reacts to the introduction of a noxious smoke entering the lungs and agitating the lining. The other unfortunately difference between cigarettes and marijuana use is how long a toke is held and how deep a user inhales when they smoke it. A cigarette is typically smoked by taking light, gentle puffs that are immediately exhaled, where consumers who are smoking weed will take much deeper breaths and attempt to hold them in as long as possible. This causes a significant amount of irritation that is almost equal to cigarette smokers in the short term. Luckily, these symptoms will leave pot smokers in approximately 72 hours or less after obtaining unlike cigarettes that can take years, but it’s still an issue.
A lot of people don’t realize that marijuana use can harm the user’s overall heart health which is a common contributor to complaints of chest pain immediately after smoking weed. Cannabinoids interact with the bodies endocannabinoid receptors to trigger a release of natural chemicals and hormones within the person’s body. Quite often the result is a slightly increased pain tolerance that keeps troubling symptoms to a minimum, but they after often still felt for several reasons. Smoking weed will increase blood pressure and heart rate which can cause additional strain on the heart. This can be especially dangerous for anyone who has prior heart problems and increases the chance of heart attacks and stroke. In chronic users, it can also line the ¼ inch thick valves of the heart with the natural sticky coating from the introduction of cannabis smoke into the bloodstream.
The lungs are lined with hundreds of muscles and ligaments that work in combination with one another every time to move or breath. Those who have problems like prior muscle damage or anxiety are especially susceptible to this kind of chest pain since their muscles are already over extended or inflamed. Typically, the pains will be sharp and short and fluctuate with intensity as the muscle contract through regular movements. These pains may seem worrisome, but they should begin to subside as the injury heals.
Bacteria or other illness
Medical conditions and colds like bronchitis, pneumonia, or the introduction of a bad bacterial virus can also cause chest pains after marijuana use. If you feel pain or discomfort for weeks or longer after smoking weed, than it is recommended to seek medical treatment for an underlying condition.
How to avoid chest pain after marijuana use
Now that you know some of the most common reasons for chest pain after smoking weed, you are probably wondering how to prevent chest pain altogether. Smoking cannabis may, unfortunately, lead to some of the listed problems here, but there are a few things you can alter to still gain the benefits of the cannabinoids without the discomfort.
Take manageable hits.
Smoking weed doesn’t have to be a competition based on who can take the biggest hits. Though it might be fun in a group of close friends, that’s the best way to end up experiencing some form of chest pain after marijuana use. Instead take smaller, more manageable tokes and release them immediately. Since the cannabinoids are absorbed within seconds, so there is no need to hurt yourself by holding on to it longer.
Use a device that suits your lung capacity.
Every person has their own unique build and design leaving some of us with a lower lung capacity than the rest. Lung capacity is normally measured by the amount of air you can inhale at one time, and each device will suit a different capability in that area. Joints and smaller weed pipes will offer a much smoother hit that will be much less likely to induce any unwanted chest pains.
Try a vaporizer.
Vaporizers are the all the rage these days and for very good reason. They are a much healthier and smoother way to consume marijuana without the harmful carcinogens that are found in smoke. Not all vaporizers are created equally, and those that use dry herb and oil concentrates will be relatively smooth, while those with shatter should be avoided by anyone who experiences chest pain after smoking weed.
Consider marijuana edibles or tinctures.
Smoking weed is easy which is why so many still to this day do it despite the hundreds of other options out there for consumption. Other alternatives are recommended if you are sick or already experiencing pain like oral tinctures, oils, or other marijuana extracts which can be made into a base ingredient and then cooked with. They can also be encapsulated for a completely smoke and taste free way to enjoy cannabis without the potential chest pains.
Pills, patches, and inhalers.
Medical marijuana has come a long way since legalization just last year, with many different companies releasing new and exciting methods of administering cannabinoids like THC or CBD without any harmful consequences which might come from smoking weed. Pills can be taken orally, tinctures are meant to drink, and inhalers will release a thin and properly measured dose that is easy to use without harming the lungs.
When to worry about chest pain after smoking weed
Though we have touched on some of the most common reasons for chest pain after marijuana use, there are thousands of other possibilities that can be caused by an underlying issue. If you or someone you know ever experiencing any of the following symptoms it is highly recommended that you seek medical assessment immediately.
- Severe pain
- Sudden pain
- Pain longer than 15 minutes.
- Pain during exercise.
- Pain that travels from the chest to the jaw, left arm and/or upper back.
- Pain alongside other symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, short breath, trouble breathing, dizziness or nausea.
Here we will help you to understand the possible causes behind this negative reaction and offer alternative solutions that might help to ease this problem.
Hidden Risk? Marijuana May Be Bad for Your Heart
A healthy 21-year-old man had a heart attack after smoking marijuana, and the doctors who treated him believe the drug is what caused his heart attack, according to a new report of this case.
In fact, experts say that there have been other cases of cardiovascular problems related to smoking pot, and that growing evidence suggests there may be a link between the drug and heart problems.
The young man at the center of the new case was a regular marijuana and cigarette smoker, according to the case report. He arrived at the emergency department in Wales and said that he had a sharp pain on the left side of his chest that had lasted for 30 minutes. He said the pain started after he played soccer.
A month prior to this, the man had come to the same department with similar symptoms, also after a game of soccer. However, at that time the doctors at the University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff, thought the pain was caused by an injury to a muscle. [16 Oddest Medical Case Reports]
But this time around, the doctors found that the man’s cholesterol and triglyceride levels were higher than they should have been, according to the report published in the September issue of The Journal of Emergency Medicine.
“Although our patient was a cigarette smoker and had elevated lipid levels, cannabis use was identified as the most significant precipitant of his acute coronary syndrome,” (ACS) the researchers wrote in the study. (Acute coronary syndrome is a term used to describe symptoms related to the obstruction of the coronary arteries, which feed the heart muscle itself, which may occur as a result of a heart attack.)
Marijuana & heart attacks
Marijuana is not considered to be a common risk factor for heart attacks, but there is evidence suggesting the drug may trigger heart attacks in rare cases, the researchers wrote. They pointed to a 2001 study published in the journal Circulation, where researchers concluded that smoking marijuana increased people’s risk of a heart attack 4.8 times in the first hour after smoking it, compared with their baseline risk.
The doctors noted that the 21-year-old man had previously used cocaine, which is a well-recognized trigger of ACS, but his use of this drug was too far in the past to be the cause of his heart attack, they wrote.
There have been other reports of heart attacks in young patients who had recently used marijuana, the researchers wrote, citing six such reports in patients ages 19 to 36.
It is not clear how marijuana may contribute to heart problems, the researchers wrote.
Experts not involved in the new report said the case adds to the body of literature on marijuana use and cardiovascular problems.
“It is difficult to establish causality [between heart attack and marijuana use] with just a case report,” said Dr. Sripal Bangalore, an associate professor and interventional cardiologist at the Department of Medicine of NYU Langone Medical Center.
“Nevertheless, the case report adds to the growing body of evidence about the potential deleterious effects of marijuana use on the heart,” Bangalore said, calling this phenomenon “the pot heart.”
Why are cases popping up now?
The man’s elevated lipids and smoking may have contributed to his heart attack, but it remains very rare for a 21-year-old to have a heart attack, without a strong family history of heart attacks, Bangalore told Live Science. It cannot be determined whether all three factors — elevated lipids, smoking cigarettes and marijuana — played a role, he added.
“Considering the current state of knowledge in the field of cannabis-related disorders, I think the researchers’ conclusions are relevant,” said Émilie Jouanjus, a medical faculty member at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse in France, who was also not involved in the report. The case is consistent with many other cases reported in the scientific literature, she said.
In her own study published in April in the Journal of the American Heart Association, Jouanjus and her colleagues examined data on health complications following marijuana use gathered between 2006 and 2010 by the French Addictovigilance Network. The researchers found that among the 2,000 cases of reported complications, 35 cases involved heart problems. And among those were 20 people who had heart attacks, including nine who died.
Cases of heart attacks associated with marijuana use are increasingly recognized, the researchers wrote in the study. [Marijuana vs. Alcohol: Which Is Really Worse for Your Health?]
Jouanjus agreed with the researchers’ statement, saying that “there was a rise in the number of cases of cannabis-related cardiovascular complications reported in the literature, starting about 20 years ago.”
But the first reported cases date back further — they were described in the late 1960s, she told Live Science.
Bangalore said the reason why such cases are being increasingly recognized today is likely that doctors are more aware now of the potential deleterious effects of marijuana use. “As the saying goes, the eyes don’t see what the mind doesn’t know.”
There’s growing evidence that marijuana use and heart attacks are linked, researchers say. In a new report, a healthy 21-year-old man had a heart attack, and his doctors concluded the attack was partly due to his marijuana use.