February is American Heart Month. A time when all people can focus on their cardiovascular health. When considering which substances may be more detrimental to the heart, most people can identify smoking cigarettes. Consequently, new research is emerging on the effects of marijuana on the heart. However, doctors and scientists have known for a long time that marijuana use increases heart rate and blood pressure. Research also shows additional risk factors with marijuana use, including increased heart palpitations and atrial fibrillation. People also experienced a 4.8 times greater risk of myocardial infarction (a blockage of blood flow to the heart) within one hour of smoking marijuana.

Several research studies found marijuana-related heart disease creates an overall higher death rate in the 24 hours after smoking marijuana and, with continued use, it increases the risk of death. Researchers believe marijuana-related heart disease may be under-reported because medical providers may not ask patients about cannabis use. An added concern is that marijuana-using older adults may not be aware of the heart-related risks.

Shortly, the month with Valentine’s Day and an emphasis on the heart and love is a great time to consider options to “love” your heart and make more heart-healthy choices. Lastly, if you or a loved one have marijuana use concerns, please call Sieda Behavioral Health and Treatment Services at 641-683-6747 for the next steps.