Marijuana Use Raises Heart Attack and Stroke Risk

( – In a study published in February of this year by the Journal of American Heart Association, the findings indicate that there may be an increased risk of heart attack in habitual users of cannabis.

Using data compiled by the he Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2016 and 2020 the study looked at health information of 434,104 U.S. residents from the ages of 18 to 74. Unlike many other studies, this one differentiated between users of marijuana, non-users as well as smokers and nonsmokers. The overall findings seemed to show a 25% increase in risk for heart attacks as well as a 42% higher risk of stroke among daily users of cannabis products.

Only about 4% of the respondents said they used marijuana daily, while 7% said they were using it far less frequently, averaging roughly five days per month. However, the findings suggested that even in less frequent habitual use there may be increased risk of cardiovascular problems. The study’s lead author, Abra Jeffers, says that while the general perception of cannabis being a harmful drug is decreasing, the most common way that people use it is still smoking it, which has many of the same dangers of any other forms of smoke inhalation such as the inhalation of particulates.

Dr. Céline Gounder, CBS News medical contributor and editor-at-large for public health at KFF Health News, says she is not surprised by the findings. She commented that whether it is marijuana, tobacco cigarettes, or wildfire smoke people are still inhaling particulates and other chemicals that can cause damage to lungs and hearts. She added that vaping has inherent dangers as well, as the additives are heated up and release byproducts which can be harmful as well.

With broader legalization cannabis use is rising, while tobacco use is decreasing. Although still illegal on a federal level, medicinal use of cannabis is legal in 38 states while recreational use is legal in 24 states. A federal study released in 2019 showed that the number of people in the U.S. who admitted to using marijuana products had nearly doubled since 2002. Robert Page, a pharmacist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, says this study may be a call to action for health practitioners to have nonjudgmental discussions about the risks of marijuana usage with their patients.

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