Another Reason Why Cannabis Is Dangerous
In two new observational studies, smoking cannabis plays a larger role in heart health than previously recognized. A frequent marijuana smoker is more than twice as likely as a nonsmoker to have a stroke, according to the first study. They are also more likely to be hospitalized for a dangerously erratic heart rhythm, the second study found. With such a rapid push for marijuana legalization today, "the herb and its metabolites are being promoted as a cure-all for a myriad of medical conditions and ailments," Dr. Ranjit Suri, an electrophysiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke's in New York City, said. Researchers in the first study evaluated federal survey data on more than 43,000 adults, aged 18 to 44, and found that those who use marijuana more than 10 times a month are 2.5 times more likely to have a stroke than nonusers. Strokes occur when blood clots and narrows arteries in the heart, effects that increase with marijuana use. The second study concluded that those who regularly smoke pot have an up to 50% greater risk of developing arrhythmia, an erratic heartbeat which can lead to a stroke. Researchers compared 570,000 patients with arrhythmia and found that compulsive cannabis users aged 25 to 34 were 52% more likely of developing the condition while those aged 15 to 24 were 28% more likely. Dr. Rikinkumar Patel, a resident physician in the department of psychiatry at Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman, Okla., links heartbeat regularity to doses of the drug, with low doses causing rapid heartbeat patterns and high doses causing too-slow patterns. "Physicians should ask patients hospitalized with arrhythmia about their use of cannabis and other substances because they could be triggering their arryhtmias," Patel said. Both studies were presented at an American Heart Association meeting in November.