Daily Marijuana Use Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke, Study Finds


A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association sheds new light on the potential risks associated with daily marijuana use, revealing a significant increase in the risk of heart attack and stroke among frequent users. Led by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, and funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study highlights the importance of understanding the cardiovascular implications of cannabis consumption.

“We know that toxins are released when cannabis is burned, similar to those found in tobacco smoke,” explains Abra Jeffers, a data analyst at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and former researcher at UCSF.

“This study provides evidence that smoking cannabis appears to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.”

Analyzing data from over 430,000 American adults aged 18 to 74 between 2016 and 2020, researchers found that approximately 4% were daily cannabis users, while 7% used the drug about five days a month. The remaining 88.9% had not used marijuana in the past 30 days. Among current users, three-fourths reported primarily smoking the drug.

Dr. Salomeh Keyhani, a professor of medicine at UCSF and senior author of the study, emphasizes the growing prevalence of cannabis use compared to traditional tobacco smoking. “Cannabis use by itself might, over time, become the more important risk factor,” says Dr. Keyhani.

Study Uncovers The Risk of Heart Attack

The study reveals alarming statistics regarding the health risks associated with daily marijuana use. Daily users who inhaled cannabis via combustion were found to be 25% more likely to experience a heart attack and 42% more likely to suffer a stroke compared to non-users.

Even sporadic users faced elevated risks, with a 3% increase in heart attack risk and a 5% increase in stroke risk compared to non-users.

Dr. David Goff, director of the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, underscores the public health significance of these findings. “This is an important public health finding, particularly given our ongoing efforts to reduce the burden of heart disease in this country,” says Dr. Goff.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for one in every five deaths, according to the CDC. The legalization of marijuana in various states, including New York, has prompted calls for further research to better understand the health effects of cannabis.

With marijuana legalization spreading across the nation, it is imperative to conduct comprehensive research to elucidate the potential health risks associated with its use. As the findings of this study suggest, daily marijuana use may pose significant threats to cardiovascular health, warranting increased awareness and informed decision-making among consumers.

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