Smoking cannabis increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, and heart attack: Study

The latest research about cannabis use indicates that smoking and inhaling cannabis increases concentrations of blood carboxyhemoglobin and tar both of which have been linked to heart diseases.

Two new non-published studies, presented on Monday at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia, found that older adults who use marijuana but do not smoke tobacco were more likely to be hospitalised for heart attack and stroke, and that daily users were 34% more likely to develop heart failure.

Robert Page II, chair of the volunteer writing group for the 2020 American Heart Association Scientific Statement: Medical Marijuana, Recreational Cannabis, and Cardiovascular Health, stated in a statement that “observational data are strongly pointing to the fact that… cannabis use at any point in time, be it recreational or medicinal, may lead to the development of cardiovascular disease.” He didn’t participate in either of the recent investigations.


The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends against smoking and vaping any substance, including cannabis products, due to the substantial risk of heart, lung, and blood vessel damage.

According to Page, a professor in the clinical pharmacy and physical medicine/rehabilitation department at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Aurora, Colorado, “The latest research about cannabis use indicates that smoking and inhaling cannabis increases concentrations of blood carboxyhemoglobin (carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas), tar (partly burned combustible matter) similar to the effects of inhaling a tobacco cigarette, both of which have been linked to heart muscle disease, chest pain, heart rhythm disturbances, heart attacks and other serious conditions.” He added, “You need to treat this just like you would any other risk factor (for heart disease and stroke), and honestly understand the risks that you were taking.”

Chronic illnesses and marijuana

One study that looked at hospital records for persons over 65 with cannabis use disorder who did not smoke tobacco found that older adults frequently develop a number of chronic diseases by the age of 65, which seem to exacerbate the effects of marijuana.

Lead study author Dr. Avilash Mondal, a resident physician at Philadelphia’s Nazareth Hospital, said in a statement, “What is unique about our study is that patients who were using tobacco were excluded because cannabis and tobacco are sometimes used together, so we were able to specifically examine cannabis use and cardiovascular outcomes.”


Researchers discovered that, in comparison to nearly 10 million older hospitalised persons who did not use marijuana, the 8,535 seniors who overused marijuana had a 20% higher risk of experiencing a serious cardiac or brain event while in the hospital.

Patients with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol had previously received diagnosis from both abusers and non-users. According to the study, marijuana users’ high blood pressure (over 130/80 mm Hg) and high cholesterol were significant predictors of serious adverse cardiac and brain events.

“We know acute use can lead to a drop in blood pressure and therefore, particularly when this is vaped or when it is smoked and or combusted. And so therefore, that plays into the … understanding the potential risk for stroke,” Page stated. “But what’s interesting is if you look at individuals who’ve used cannabis daily over very long periods of time, it’s actually been associated with an increase in blood pressure which is also a risk factor for numerous other cardiovascular conditions.”

Increased risk of heart failure heart attack

A second study, which was presented on Monday, tracked about 160,000 adults for around four years, with a median age of 54, to determine whether cannabis usage affected the likelihood of heart failure. The American Heart Association states that heart failure does not indicate that the heart has ceased beating, but rather that it is not pumping blood with oxygen at the proper rate.

Those who reported using marijuana daily had a 34% higher chance of having heart failure than those who claimed never using it, according to study findings.

There was no discernible effect of age, birth gender, or smoking history on the risk. It was unknown to the study researchers whether the marijuana was consumed or smoked.

According to a research earlier this year, daily marijuana use can increase one’s risk of coronary artery disease by one-third as compared to abstaining from the drug. Plaque accumulation in the walls of the arteries supplying the heart with blood is the cause of coronary artery disease. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, CAD, also known as atherosclerosis, is the most prevalent kind of heart disease.

heart attack

“Prior research shows links between marijuana use and cardiovascular disease like coronary artery disease, heart failure and atrial fibrillation, which is known to cause heart failure,” lead author of the heart failure study Dr. Yakubu Bene-Alhasan said in a statement. Bene-Alhasan is a resident physician at Medstar Health in Baltimore.

“Our results should encourage more researchers to study the use of marijuana to better understand its health implications, especially on cardiovascular risk,” Bene-Alhasan stated.

An issue that is becoming more prevalent among senior citizens

The use of marijuana by senior citizens is increasing. According to a 2020 survey, the proportion of American seniors over 65 who currently consume edibles or smoke marijuana doubled between 2015 and 2018. According to a 2023 study conducted in the previous month, the over-65 population’s usage of marijuana and binge drinking increased by 450% between 2015 and 2019.

A cannabis use disorder is a marijuana dependence that affects around three out of ten marijuana users. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a person is deemed dependent on cannabis if they have food cravings or an appetite loss, irritability, restlessness, mood swings, or trouble sleeping after withdrawing.

When someone uses marijuana excessively and finds it difficult to give up, even though it interferes with many aspects of life, it creates an addiction.

You might also be also be intersted in – Smoking kills over 8 million people each year: WHO launches initiative to help 1.3bn people quit smoking

Dr. Shubhangi Jha

Avid reader, infrequent writer, evolving

Related Articles

Back to top button