Cannabis Use Associated with Higher Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke, Study Finds

A detailed review of health data from 430,000 adults in the United States revealed an important connection between cannabis use and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, as reported in a study released today in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The research, led by Abra Jeffers, Ph.D., a data analyst at Massachusetts General Hospital, investigated the impact of cannabis use on cardiovascular health, considering various methods of consumption such as smoking, eating, and vaporizing. The study discovered that, even after accounting for tobacco use and other cardiovascular risk factors, cannabis use remained independently linked to adverse cardiovascular outcomes.

Despite the federal illegality of cannabis, 24 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational use, contributing to a surge in cannabis consumption in recent decades. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported a notable increase, with 48.2 million people aged 12 or older acknowledging cannabis use at least once in 2019, compared to 25.8 million in 2002.

Jeffers highlighted the lack of awareness regarding the cardiovascular risks associated with cannabis use. “The perceptions of the harmfulness of smoking cannabis are decreasing, and people have not considered cannabis use dangerous to their health,” she noted.¬†

Previous research indicated a potential connection between cannabis and cardiovascular disease, with smoking, the predominant method of use, posing additional risks due to inhaled particulate matter.

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Cannabis Use Linked to Elevated Cardiovascular Risks

cannabis-use-associated-higher-risk-heart-attack-stroke-study-finds
A detailed review of health data from 430,000 adults in the United States revealed an important connection between cannabis use and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, as reported in a study released today in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The study, based on data collected from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, revealed that any form of cannabis use, including smoking, eating, or vaporizing, was independently associated with a higher number of adverse cardiovascular outcomes, encompassing coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Daily cannabis users faced a 25% higher likelihood of heart attack compared to non-users, and the odds of stroke were 42% higher for daily users.

Furthermore, among younger adults at risk for premature cardiovascular disease, cannabis use was significantly linked to a 36% higher combined odds of coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, irrespective of traditional tobacco product use.

The study emphasized the need for prospective cohort studies to further investigate the association between cannabis use and cardiovascular outcomes over time. Robert L. Page II, chair of the volunteer writing group for the 2020 American Heart Association Scientific Statement, stressed the importance of recognizing cannabis use during patient encounters to engage in informed discussions about potential cardiovascular risks and risk reduction strategies.

As cannabis use continues to gain legal acceptance and accessibility, practitioners and clinicians are urged to remain vigilant in addressing its potential impact on cardiovascular health.

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