Marijuana and Stroke Risk

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As marijuana is becoming more widely accessible and used for medical or recreational use, its use has been associated with increased risks for stroke and heart failure.

Research* presented at the American College of Cardiology annual scientific session, found marijuana use was associated with a significantly increased risk for:

Marijuana use was also associated with risk factors known to raise cardiovascular risk, such as:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use

After adjusting for those risk factors, marijuana use was independently linked with the following in their analysis:

  • 26 percent higher risk of stroke
  • 10 percent higher risk of developing heart failure   

The study revealed that cannabis affects cardiac muscle cells which alter heart contractility (its ability to squeeze and eject blood from the heart). Further studies and data collection will be needed to know more about the effects and side effects of this drug as is the case for all drugs that are prescribed or not prescribed.

This study was based on hospital discharge records at more than 1,000 hospitals (about 20 percent of U.S. medical centers) — not the general population. Patients ranged from the young through middle-aged (age 18-55 years).

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