Stroke, Heart Failure Linked to Marijuana
A new study has shown that marijuana use could see a 26% increase in stroke and a 10% increase in risk of heart failure.
“Like all other drugs, whether they’re prescribed or not prescribed, we want to know the effects and side effects of this drug,” said the study’s lead author Aditi Kalla from Einstein Medical Centre in Philadelphia, US.
“It’s important for physicians to know these effects so we can better educate patients, such as those who are inquiring about the safety of cannabis or even asking for a prescription for cannabis,” Kalla said.
In the study, the researchers looked at the health records of more than 20 million patients ages 18 to 55. Comparing cardiovascular disease rates in patients using marijuana to disease rates in patients not reporting marijuana use, the researchers found marijuana use was associated with a significantly increased risk for stroke, heart failure, coronary artery disease and sudden cardiac death.
Research in cell cultures shows that heart muscle cells have cannabis receptors relevant to contractility, or squeezing ability, suggesting that those receptors might be one mechanism through which marijuana use could affect the cardiovascular system. It is also not clear why marijuana use would be linked to a higher risk of stroke, but previous research has suggested that using the drug may increase the chance of blood clots, which can then lead to stroke, Kalla said.
Future research should take a closer look at the relationship between marijuana use and heart disease, Kalla said. For example, researchers still need to figure out what amounts of marijuana and what forms of marijuana use (for example smoking or ingesting) may lead to cardiovascular complications, she said.