WASHINGTON — Amid the looming legalization of marijuana in more than half of U.S. states, a new study finds that actually using weed increases your likelihood of stroke or heart failure.
Researchers at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) drew their research from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a survey that contains data from patients in over 1,000 American hospitals nationwide.
The data set they examined consisted of individuals ranging from 18 to 55 years in age, who were discharged from hospitals in 2009 and 2010, prior to widespread marijuana legalization.
Researchers hoped to learn “the effects and side effects of this drug,” says Dr. Aditi Kalla, the study’s lead author, in an ACC news release.
The Nationwide Inpatient Sample showed that of the 1.5 percent of individuals who had been diagnosed as having used marijuana — a group comprised of over 300,000 individuals — cannabis consumption was found to increase the risk of stroke by 26 percent, and the risk of developing heart failure by 10 percent. This was after having controlled for other health factors, such as smoking and alcohol consumption.
“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,” says Dr. Kalla.
Previous studies had found that cells in the heart have cannabis receptors that could impact how the organ works.
Nevertheless, this study may be flawed in the sense that hospital discharge records may not reflect the health situation of the rest of the population. The study also did not examine frequency or quantity of marijuana consumed, nor whether it was smoked or ingested.
The results will be presented at the ACC’s Annual Scientific Session, taking place March 17-19 in Washington.