Two new studies have found that regularly using marijuana can significantly increase a person’s risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.
The two non-published studies — recently presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) 2023 scientific sessions event in Philadelphia — underscore the potential adverse effects of marijuana on heart health.
Marijuana, also known as weed or cannabis, is a psychoactive drug containing various chemicals, including Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary mind-altering compound responsible for its intoxicating effects.
The recent studies excluded cannabis users who also smoke tobacco to focus solely on the cardiovascular effects of marijuana consumption.
The studies found that regular users of marijuana are at a higher risk of both heart attack and stroke when hospitalized, and that those who use marijuana daily were 34% more likely to develop heart failure.
The risk was the same regardless of age, sex at birth or smoking history.
The second research discovered that older people with any combination of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol who used marijuana “significantly increased their risk for a major acute heart or brain event while hospitalized, compared to those who reported not using marijuana”.
One of the studies leveraged health data from 157,000 people in the National Institutes of Health research program.
The experts analyzed if marijuana users were more likely to experience heart failure than non-users over the course of nearly four years.
“Observational data are strongly pointing to the fact that … cannabis use at any point in time, be it recreational or medicinal, may lead to the development of cardiovascular disease,” Robert Page II, a professor in the department of clinical pharmacy and physical medicine/rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Aurora, Colorado, said in a statement.
“The latest research about cannabis use indicates that smoking and inhaling cannabis increases concentrations of blood carboxyhemoglobin (carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas), tar (partly burned combustible matter) similar to the effects of inhaling a tobacco cigarette, both of which have been linked to heart muscle disease, chest pain, heart rhythm disturbances, heart attacks and other serious conditions.
“You need to treat this just like you would any other risk factor (for heart disease and stroke), and honestly understand the risks that you were taking.”
Also speaking, Avilash Mondal, the lead study author and a resident physician at Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia said, “What is unique about our study is that patients who were using tobacco were excluded because cannabis and tobacco are sometimes used together, therefore, we were able to specifically examine cannabis use and cardiovascular outcomes”.
Last year, a study also found that the intake of marijuana may affect the cognitive functions of people — including the ability to think, make decisions and solve problems.
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