“Is smoking medically prescribed marijuana or using Marinol (prescription form) going to trigger or cause A-Fib? Will it help my A-Fib?
There isn’t much clinical research on this subject. The makers of the prescription pill form of marijuana Marinol (aka dronabinol) advise:
“…It should be used with caution in patients with cardiac disorders (like A-Fib) because of occasional hypotension, possible hypertension, syncope, or tachycardia. Dronabinol-induced sympathomimetic activity may result in tachycardia.”
[Frankly this statement seems to be a typical “cover your a-s” legal protection written by a lawyer, rather than something based on clinical data.]
A-Fib and Marijuana: During the past few years an increasing number of case reports indicate an association between marijuana smoking and the development of A-Fib. Compelling evidence is accumulating that marijuana has significant effects on the cardiovascular system.
Form Matters. The form of marijuana, the preparation and method of consumption affect the biological response, that is, “marijuana smoking, oral intake of hashish or hashish oil and intravenous administration of cannabis, may have a different physiological impact.”
Recently marijuana has been implicated in neurologic complications such as headache, transient ischaemic attacks and stroke. Middle age stroke patients were 2.3 times more likely to be pot smokers than healthy middle age control patients.
About palpitations: Marijuana smoking is independently associated with increased incidence of palpitations (although the underlying cause of this finding was not yet clear).
Personal Experiences Advice
JIM: Jim, an a-Fib patient, has kindly shared his personal experiences about how marijuana helps him. He has tried various meds, cardioversion, and had a failed ablation. He owns his own business in California and is under a lot of stress.
“Because of all of this, I was having trouble sleeping and was getting very stressed out. But instead of taking something pharmaceutical, I turned to medical marijuana. It changed my life. I come home at night, have some marijuana edibles, and the stress goes away. I sleep wonderfully at night, waking up fresh and ready for another day. I told my doctor who understands. He says that marijuana edibles shouldn’t have anything to do with A-Fib, and that I can continue to take them.”
JOHN: On the other hand, John writes that “99% of his A-Fib attacks occurred while under the influence of marijuana.”
WILLIAM: William writes, “The A-Fib ablation has been very successful, except the two times that I went into A-Fib after smoking marijuana. I’m a lifelong recreational marijuana smoker, also smoke to relieve the pain from six surgeries on my right arm. Both times that I’ve gone into A-Fib since my last ablation have been after smoking marijuana. After the latest episode I’ve quite smoking marijuana because of the evidence that it can lead to A-Fib.”
“I tried a tiny bit of brownie for the first time since being diagnosed with A-Fib (occasional episodes). It was OK until about two hours later. I went into A-Fib and, a bit later, came the closest I ever have to blacking out. I don’t think it’s for me anymore.”
“I am currently 55 years old and have been through 15 cardioversions due to A-Fib. I smoked marijuana pretty much daily and noticed that, when I smoked, my heart rate went up. So, I stopped smoking altogether. Since quitting smoking marijuana 7 years ago, I have not had a single case of going into A-Fib. I’m positive that the two are related.” (Scott writes that he also stopped drinking which helped. He used to drink a six pack daily.)
Due to the increased use of medical marijuana in California and other states, we should soon be getting more data on marijuana’s effects on A-Fib.
I don’t know enough about marijuana to give good advice on this subject. Please email me if you have experiences or observations to share about marijuana and A-Fib.
If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Monday, April 24, 2017