Dear Alice,

I recently smoked marijuana, and while I was stoned, my heart pounded rapidly. Is this a normal effect of the drug, an allergic reaction, or something else??

Dear Reader,

A person using marijuana will likely experience an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, since these are common, short-term side-effects of the drug. Another possible explanation for this response is more psychological: anxiety about smoking pot, or pre-existing non-marijuana-related anxiety, can contribute to mild, and sometimes severe, panic attacks that are accompanied by a racing, pounding heart. These anxiety reactions are common among "nervous," first-time users, but are not exclusive to this group.

Another possibility to consider: the marijuana smoked was mixed with another drug, such as PCP. If so, the effect of this unknown substance could have played a role in your rapidly-pounding heart.

If the effects on your heart bother you or make you uncomfortable, then maybe reconsidering smoking marijuana is an option.

Regardless, a rapidly-pounding heart is something to pay attention to. If you notice it happening under any other circumstances and/or more frequently, then consider talking with a health care provider.


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