Daily Marijuana Use Linked to Heart Disease
Grace Weatherby
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

Daily Marijuana Use Linked to Heart Disease

Even though more and more states are moving towards legalizing recreational and medicinal use of marijuana, it’s important to remember that there’s still a lot to be learned about the effects of long-term use in any form.

One potential outcome of regular use that has been highlighted in recent publications is an increased risk of heart disease. According to a study presented at the 2023 American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session with the World Congress of Cardiology, people who used marijuana daily were found to be about one-third more likely to develop coronary artery disease (CAD) compared with people who have never used the drug.

As for what’s behind the suspected marijuana-heart disease link, experts point to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol acid) the chemical in marijuana responsible for the feeling of being high. Studies have found that heart rhythm abnormalities, such as tachycardia and atrial fibrillation, are also associated with smoking marijuana containing THC. The resulting increased heart rate may put stress on the heart and arteries and contributes to high blood pressure. Research suggests that the risk of heart attack is several times higher in the hour after smoking marijuana than it would be normally.

Compounding the issue is the fact that marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxins and carcinogens found in cigarette smoke and that the levels of carbon monoxide and tar in the blood of marijuana smokers increase after smoking. Chest pain, heart attacks, heart rhythm disturbances and other serious heart conditions are all associated with both tobacco and marijuana carbon monoxide intoxication.

This is especially concerning for anyone with a history of heart disease or heart attacks. All users, regardless of cardiac history, should also note that a study from the American Heart Association found that marijuana users had 17% to 24% increased risk of stroke compared with non-users.

This current research suggests a possible association only and more work needs to be done on the effects of marijuana on cardiovascular health before the impacts are clear. However, these findings certainly raise concern, and it is important for users to be aware that smoking marijuana may not be without risk. Users are urged to be honest with their doctors about their consumption so that proper steps can be taken to monitor their health and evaluate any emerging issues.


Adam Cohen, MD, is the director of Emergency Medicine and an Emergency Medicine physician at SVMC.


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