Higher risk of stroke and cardiac arrhythmia when using cannabis

Higher risk of stroke and cardiac arrhythmia when using cannabis

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Cannabis use has been linked to strokes and irregular heartbeat

A new study from the US showed that young people who frequently used cannabis had a higher risk of stroke. And in people with cannabis use disorder, the risk of being hospitalized for cardiac arrhythmia was significantly increased.

Years ago, scientists from the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia reported at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology about a link between marijuana use and a high risk of stroke. Now researchers from the USA have once again found that high consumption of the intoxicant increases the risk of stroke.

Increased risk of stroke

According to a communication from the American Heart Association, the new study showed that frequent cannabis use among young people was associated with an increased risk of stroke and people with cannabis use disorder were more likely to be hospitalized for arrhythmias (arrhythmias).

The results of the study by researchers led by Tarang Parekh from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, will be presented at this year's Scientific Sessions by the American Heart Association in Philadelphia from November 16-18. In addition, they were published in the trade magazine "Stroke".

Understand health effects better

The American Heart Association (AHA) has no position regarding the legalization of cannabis. Where marijuana is legal, however, according to the experts, measures such as an age restriction and - like smoking - a ban on consumption in certain places should be set.

"As these products become more widely used across the country, clearer, more scientifically-based data will be important to understanding the overall health effects of cannabis," said Dr. Robert Harrington, president of the American Heart Association and chair of the medical school at Stanford University in Stanford, California.

Risk may also be affected by other factors

Young people who used cannabis frequently and also smoked cigarettes or consumed e-cigarettes had a stroke three times more often than non-users.

The study also showed that cannabis users who did not use tobacco products but used marijuana more than ten days a month had a stroke almost 2.5 times more likely than non-users.

Cannabis users were also frequent drinkers, current cigarette users and e-cigarette users, which may have influenced their risk. However, the researchers adjusted these factors in their analysis.

Doctors and doctors should ask about cannabis use

The study included more than 43,000 adults ages 18 to 44, nearly 14 percent of whom said they had used cannabis in the past 30 days. Compared to non-users, marijuana users were often younger, less likely to have a college degree, and were often physically active.

“Young cannabis users, especially those who use tobacco and have other risk factors for stroke, such as: B. Hypertension should understand that they may increase their risk of stroke at a young age, ”said lead study author Tarang Parekh.

"Doctors should ask patients if they use cannabis and inform them about the potential risk of stroke through regular visits to the doctor."

The study was an observational study and did not examine the biological mechanism between stroke and cannabis use. Although it identified a possible connection, it provided no evidence of cause and effect.

The analyzed data comes from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) (2016-17), a nationally representative survey collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Arrhythmias can be life-threatening

Analysis of other data showed that people who were diagnosed with cannabis use disorder had a 50 percent higher risk of being hospitalized for an arrhythmia than non-users. Cannabis use disorder is characterized by frequent, compulsive use of marijuana, similar to alcoholism.

While some arrhythmias are benign, others can be life-threatening. “The effects of cannabis use are visible within 15 minutes and last for about three hours. At lower doses, it is associated with a fast heartbeat. At higher doses, the heartbeat is too slow, ”said Rikinkumar S. Patel, a physician at Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman, Oklahoma.

Cannabis could cause arrhythmia

"The risk of cannabis use associated with arrhythmias in young people is a major concern, and doctors should ask patients treated with arrhythmias in the hospital about the use of cannabis and other substances as they may trigger arrhythmias," said Patel.

“Because medical cannabis and recreational cannabis are legalized in many states, it is important to understand the difference between the therapeutic dosage of cannabis for medical purposes and the consequences of cannabis abuse. We urgently need additional research to understand these problems, ”said Patel.

This is said to be the first large-scale population-based study to investigate a relationship between cannabis use disorders and hospitalizations for irregular heartbeat. Although it provides no evidence of cause and effect, it does identify an important trend. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • American Heart Association: Cannabis may be linked to strokes and heart rhythm disturbances in young people, (accessed: November 12, 2019), American Heart Association
  • Stroke: Marijuana Use Among Young Adults (18–44 Years of Age) and Risk of Stroke, (accessed: November 12, 2019), Stroke
  • American College of Cardiology: Marijuana Use Associated with Increased Risk of Stroke, Heart Failure, (accessed: November 12, 2019), American College of Cardiology

Video: Keynote Presentation: Cannabis for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (June 2022).


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