EKG and Pot

Discussion in 'Medicinal Cannabis and Health' started by aloha43, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. aloha43

    aloha43 Registered

    My husband (46 yrs old), has a very low pulse rate (38-45) (His normal is around 55-65) and is going through a battery of tests. Yesterday he had a sonogram of his heart, and was then fitted with a testing device simular to EKG to wear for 24 hours. He is supposed to keep a diary of goings on for the Drs to compare to the EKG.

    We have argued this because he thinks it won't matter. But if they are looking at the test results and see weird things going on for every time he smokes, and he doesn't admit that he smokes or write it on the diary, then they might think something unusual is going on with the heart.

    My question is......if he smokes pot while this device is working, will something weird show on the EKG?

    Thanks a bunch,

  2. birdgirl73

    birdgirl73 Registered+

    Hey, Aloha. I may be able to help a tad with this. I'm married to a cardiologist, and I have a heart rhythm disturbance of my own and have for about five years. I used to work as a paramedic and am now in medical school myself. I smoked some weed this past summer with my sister, who's a cancer patient, but am no longer doing so because of school and because it gave me asthma and occasional arrhythmia trouble, too. (But that may have been the asthma that affected my heart rhythm.)

    Sounds like your husband's being asked to wear a Holter monitor, which does the 24-hour heart rhythm monitoring, and record any strange occurrences that happen while he's wearing that monitor. When I have to wear Holter monitors, what they want me to record is any strange cardiac feelings I have--like weird flutterings, the feeling of missed beats, etc., and not so much what I'm doing externally, like exercising, sleeping, etc. Sometimes docs do want to know when, say, you're putting different stresses on the heart by exercising or sleeping or, like in your husband's case, smoking. I, for instance, am always asked to note in the Holter diary if I'm having breathing trouble or an asthma attack. What the Holter diary notes tell the nurse who "dumps" and prints out the Holter report and then the doctor who'll review it is to pay special attention to those particular times the patient noted and see if anything unique was happening to the heart rhythm.

    Ideally, yes, your husband ought to be up front with the doc about his weed smoking because it does indeed affect heart rhythm in some people. It's been associated with atrial fibrillation, and it's also a plausible explanation for sinus bradycardia (slow normal heart rhythm) because cannabis has vaso-dilatory effect. People sometimes forget that doctors aren't cops and try and avoid telling them the truth about what they're taking, whether it's natural supplements or street drugs or whatever. Just tell your husband to keep in mind that he (or his insurance company) is paying that cardiologist to give him an accurate assessment of what's going on with his heart, so he might as well give the doctor the straight story. There are plenty of very cool doctors in the world. My husband, for instance, would be very unlikely to take issue with someone smoking weed, but he'd definitely get stern about cigarettes.

    Tell your husband to go ahead and tell the doc he smokes weed and, especially if he notices heart-related changes while he's smoking, to note that in his Holter diary. It can't do him any harm, and it may help explain what's happening with his heart. I have a real slow heart rhythm myself, especially for someone with atrial fibrillation, which is the rhythm ailment I have trouble with, but they've concluded that the slow rhythm is simply because I'm in good condition because of exercise. In cases where a bradycardic (slow) rhythm is caused by something else, they can usually easily fix that with medication. (FYI in heart talk, the "brady-" prefix means slow, and "tachy-" means fast. Fibrillation is usually a fast, asynchronous fluttering.) Good luck! Let us know what he finds out!
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2006
  3. levinrec

    levinrec Registered

    question regarding heart problems

    i take verapamil for irregular heart beat. I also take anti-anxiety meds and pain meds (norco and opana). I am considering smoking weed (or eating laced brownies) for pain and maybe just for kicks. does anyone know if this can be dangerous beccause of various drug interactions or my heart disorder?
  4. birdgirl73

    birdgirl73 Registered+

    Levinrec, you didn't say what heart disorder your verapamil treats, but my husband just read over my shoulder here and said it'd be wise to be very cautious about mixing weed with that medicine, particularly if you smoked or ate an Indica strain. Verapamil relaxes your blood vessels, and so if you combined weed with something that already does that and had some additional vaso-relaxation (dilation) from weed, that could slow your heart rhythm down and/or lower your blood pressure too much.

    As far as anxiety goes, be aware that some of the Sativa strains can worsen anxiety in lots of people, giving them jitters and causing panic attacks in some cases. So if you're already being treated for anxiety, I'd be careful there, too.

    You'll just want to be very knowledgeable about what type of weed you're buying and smoking/eating if you do try it. Good luck!
  5. wildebeest

    wildebeest Registered

    bird girl i always read ur threads and u are so smart about stuff i really need ur advice do u know about cardio. I have a murmur (innocent) and an extra electrical wire or something. also harmless the cardiologist. I am able to continue myu use of adderall he said. In a month he wants me to take a 24 hour thing. do u think its okay for me to smoke cannabis occasionly since i can take adderall? recently iv gotten anxiety attacks that make my chest tightn up and get num. is that bad? I dont see y i cant please respond thanks
  6. birdgirl73

    birdgirl73 Registered+

    Hey, Wildebeest. Thanks. I have a heart rhythm disorder myself, and I'm married to a cardiologist and am studying medicine myself, so I've picked up a lot of cardiology information over the years. I saw your other thread about this, which got taken down, as you may know by now, because of your email address and the numerous non-cannabis responses some jokers made in response to it.

    I'm going to give you my standard answer that I give to everyone with health questions: ask your doctor and be candid with him about your cannabis use. I don't know the details of your particular situation, and you've not really given them above. I'm guessing you have some sort of extra conduction pathway like Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, perhaps, in addition to a beningn murmur?

    If your doc said continuing with your prescribed ADD medicine is fine, that's good news. But cannabis affects different people different ways, and it sometimes triggers dysrhythmias and frequently speeds people's heart rates up right after it's smoked (an effect I think has more to do with the action of smoking itself and the effects that has on your oxygen levels than with the actual cannabis). With you already taking a stimulant like Adderall and having a conduction problem, and considering that it's very hard to know exactly what strain you may be smoking (sativas can cause more heart-racing/rhythm problems and anxiety than indicas), I think you should be very cautious about adding cannabis into that mix until you've heard what your doc has to say. Don't be afraid to tell him. He's not the police. But he does need to know, and if you're about to do the 24-hour Holter monitoring, you can tell him then. You just want to make sure you're not doing anything that's going to further complicate your heart electricity. If you plan to smoke anyway no matter what everyone says, try staying smoke free for three days before you wear the Holter monitor. Then, at some point in those 24 hours, smoke whatever would be a normal dose of cannabis for you and note that in the little Holter diary they'll give you and also note the corresponding counter number on the monitor. That'll help you know exactly when in the 24 hour report, which'll print out with the counter times, you smoked the cannabis. When you talk to the doctor after the Holter report comes back, tell him you're an occasional cannabis user (this isn't going to surprise or shock him) and that you happened to smoke during the Holter period between XXX and XXX time. Then see what he says. It's worth a try!
  7. wildebeest

    wildebeest Registered

    yeah your advice sounds so good. i really apriciate the response. now what i do know is that i don have wolf parkensins. He specificaly said that. Its like a little wire or something he said that he said not to worry about. And like im not saying ur wrong ur completely wright and i should def tell him but its hard cuz my parents hate cannabis and im not yet old enough to drive up by my self just yet dont go t my liscence so for now im stuck in the office with my mom. i know that sounds so stupid but ya. Im under so much stress its been on my mind. They also did an unltra sound and all to. so im kinda stuck your advice was great tho if u dont mind me asking for some more since ur husband is a cardiologist. if you would please pleas ask him if he knows about an "extra electrical wire"? i meen ive been smoking for quite some time never had chest pains or anything negative until my first anxiety attack from mixing it with alcohol. that has changed my view on cannabis and i respect it alot more now and dont do stupid things. im proly trailing off but you are really helping me out by what uv already done and if you could just tell me if u know what im talking about. Im not an addict but i really wanna blaze and im convinced that since i can go play hockey all day and take adderll i should be able to handle a bit of cannabis
    thanks sooooooo much
  8. birdgirl73

    birdgirl73 Registered+

    Hey again, Wildebeest. I'll be happy to ask Dave when he gets home this evening. This is a procedure/surgery day, which generally keeps him at the hospital till 8 or so. He has sometimes even been known to come online here, and we may be able to get him to tonight if he can find his password.

    What I can tell you because I've just finished up cardiac anatomy in med school is that extra conduction pathways are fairly common. The heart has tons of nerves and conduction pathways, and so an extra one is a pretty routine occurrence. My dad has one, and he's not a Wolff-Parkinson-White patient, either. If they were worried about yours at all, they'd already be making plans to treat you with medicine or do a catheterization-ablation or tell you to limit your activities or change your medicine, so yours really sounds fairly harmless. They simply show up as differences on your EKG, and a lot of people have them. My husband Dave is going to tell you this exact same thing.

    Don't stress out about it, OK? If anything, you're causing yourself more harm by stressing about it than the extra conduction pathway is. If you can play hockey and take your Adderall, you're no doubt fine. And like I've already said, if you weren't fine, they'd already be making plans to fix things. (These days, cardio-electrical problems are amazingly treatable even when they're serious.) Oh! Do be aware, however, that alcohol can complicate heart electrical situations, too, and so you might go easy on the alcohol. They tell me not to drink more than one glass of wine because of my arrhythmia, but mine's particularly susceptible to alcohol, from what I've read. I know you wanna blaze, too, but the most common strains that are out there on the street these days tend to be sativas, which can "excite" the heart to some extent, so be wary, like I said.

    Electrical conduction system of the heart - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The link above will show you a little about electrical conduction in the heart. It's very complex and amazing, and if you look at the little animation at the right, all those red signals are nerve pathways. So it's very common to have little unique differences in your nerve pathways. Take care, OK? If Dave can't find his password and come online, I'll have him read over my shoulder so he can reassure you!
  9. wildebeest

    wildebeest Registered

    Wow...you dont even understand how much you have done for me like i cant even thank you enough. Ive been looking and looking for help and could never find it. thank you so much. one more thing lol is getting drunk okay? fomr what it sounded like i think u said it is
  10. wildebeest

    wildebeest Registered

    Srry to write this in a new thread but what exactly is an arrythmia I thought they could be treated or corrected. Are you saying if you smoked or drank to much you would die?
  11. birdgirl73

    birdgirl73 Registered+

    You might want to read it all again. I said be very careful about alcohol. It can definitely mess with heart electricity. My doc has told me not to drink at all--or no more than one glass. So the answer there is I wouldn't drink much, if at all, at least until you ask about that. Just so it's clear, I suggested it'd be wise to be very wary about using cannabis, too, until you tell your doc. I know you're a kid and you have parents who are anti-pot, but if you're a teenager and if laws in Canada are like they are here, your doc can't tell them. It'll just be between you and him.
  12. birdgirl73

    birdgirl73 Registered+

    An arrhythmia is when the heart rhythm is different from normal. They know how normal rhythms are supposed to be by looking at EKGs. An arrhythmia is just a different rhythm from normal. Some are harmless. Some are not. Some are treatable with medicines, pacemakers, defibrillators, or ablation procedures, and some are not. Arrhythmias result from conduction differences, too, but not necessarily from extra conduction pathways like you have. There are entire chapters in cardiology books about various arrhtymias. Many are common, and a lot of them happen to people after they've had heart disease and heart attacks and high blood pressure, none of which are probably a problem for you.

    OK, gotta sign off now for a while and study some of my own homework. Nice talking cardiology with you!
  13. wildebeest

    wildebeest Registered

    ya i love carido talk. Ya i gotta ask the doc. So your saying arrhythmias can simply just develop in somebody

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