Smoking ganja increases risk of stroke and heart attack, new study warns
WASHINGTON DC – New research has revealed that cannabis is harmful to cardiovascular health and increases the chance of early death irrespective of related factors such as smoking tobacco.
Data taken from the records of more than 20 million people at over 1,000 US hospitals found that those who used the herb had a 26 percent greater chance of suffering a stroke than those who did not, as well as a 10 percent higher chance of having a heart attack.
The findings indicate that there is something intrinsic about cannabis that can damage the proper functioning of the human heart.
This conclusion remained unchanged after taking into account unhealthy factors known to affect many cannabis smokers, such as poor diet, obesity, alcohol overindulgence and tobacco smoking.
According to Dr Aditi Kalla, Cardiology Fellow at the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia and the study’s lead author: “Even when we corrected for known risk factors, we still found a higher rate of both stroke and heart failure in these patients, so that leads us to believe that there is something else going on besides just obesity or diet-related cardiovascular side effects.
“It’s important for physicians to know these effects so we can better educate patients.”
The researchers analysed the records of young and middle-aged patients aged between 18 and 55 who were discharged from 1,000 hospitals in 2009 and 2010 at a time when marijuana use was still illegal in most states.
The study identified 316,000 patients, or 1.5 percent, where marijuana use was diagnosed in the notes.
Their cardiovascular disease rates were compared to those who did not use cannabis, and the difference was revealed.
The research, which was published last week at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Washington DC, built on previous research in cell cultures that has shown 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.