Study Claims Heavy Cannabis Consumption Increases Risk of Stroke in Young People

A new study found heavy cannabis consumption in young people is linked to an increased risk of a stroke and hospitalization for cardiac arrhythmia compared to those who don’t consume cannabis.

The study, published in the journal Stroke, looked at 43,000 adults ages 18-44 who had consumed cannabis in the past 30 days and found “significantly higher odds for a stroke in users compared to non-users. The risk was higher for frequent users, or those who used cannabis more than 10 days a month, with the chances for a stroke being 2.5 times higher than non-users. Additional forms of smoke and vaping only compounded the risk, as those who used cannabis frequently and smoked cigarettes or e-cigarettes were three times more likely to suffer a stroke. Studies have shown high potency cannabis has caused various health concerns.

“Our results suggest that there is a link between the frequent use of marijuana and the risk of stroke, and the risk is higher if marijuana is used in addition to cigarettes or e-cigarettes,” said lead author Tarang Parekh, MBBS, a health policy researcher at George Mason University.

The findings will be presented at the annual American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Another presentation at the AHA Scientific Sessions found young people diagnosed with cannabis use disorder had a 47 to 52 percent greater risk of being hospitalized for an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. The presentation showed 15 to 24-year-old cannabis users had 1.28 times higher odds of having to go to the hospital for this heart problem and 25 to 34-year-olds faced 1.52 times higher odds.

“The effects of using cannabis are seen within 15 minutes and last for around three hours. At lower doses, it is linked to a rapid heartbeat. At higher doses, it is linked to a too-slow heartbeat,” said Dr. Rikinkumar S. Patel, resident physician in the department of psychiatry at the Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman, Oklahoma.

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