Smoking cannabis linked to increased risk of heart attack, stroke

Smoking cannabis linked to increased risk of heart attack, stroke

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association sheds light on the potential cardiovascular risks associated with cannabis consumption, particularly through smoking. The study, unveiled on Wednesday, revealed alarming statistics, indicating a heightened risk of heart attack or stroke among regular cannabis users.

Conducted over a span of four years, from 2016 to 2020, the study drew upon data from nearly 435,000 American adults. It unveiled a concerning trend: daily cannabis users, predominantly smokers, faced a 25 percent increased likelihood of experiencing a heart attack and a striking 42 percent heightened risk of suffering a stroke compared to non-users.

Even occasional cannabis consumption was not without its risks, as the study found. Weekly users exhibited a 3 percent higher probability of a heart attack and a 5 percent elevated chance of a stroke. These findings underscored the pervasiveness of cardiovascular concerns associated with cannabis use, regardless of frequency.

Lead study author Abra Jeffers, Ph.D., a data analyst at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, highlighted the release of toxins during cannabis combustion, akin to those present in tobacco smoke. Notably, the study noted that the elevated cardiovascular risks persisted even among individuals who had never smoked tobacco cigarettes or used electronic cigarettes, emphasizing the unique dangers posed by cannabis.

While the precise mechanisms linking cannabis to heart disease remain elusive, researchers pointed to endocannabinoid receptors as potential culprits. These receptors, sensitive to THC, the principal psychoactive component in cannabis, may play a pivotal role in mediating the observed cardiovascular effects.

In light of these findings, researchers urged both patients and policymakers to recognize and address the associated risks of cannabis use, particularly in light of the diminishing perception of its dangers amid increasing legalization across numerous states. The study’s data, derived from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System—an annual phone survey conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—underscores the importance of informed decision-making regarding cannabis consumption in safeguarding cardiovascular health.