Recently, two major studies delineated the risks of marijuana use. When people use marijuana, their risks for heart attacks, heart failure and strokes increase significantly. In a review an article of CNN describes details further. Two papers were presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023. One study showed that older adults who did not smoke cigarettes, but used marihuana had a higher risk of a heart attacks or strokes when hospitalized. Another study showed that daily marijuana users had a 34% higher risk of hospitalization for congestive heart failure.
Comments about marijuana use
Dr. Robert Page II is the chair of the volunteer writing group for the 2020 American Heart Association Scientific Statement. It deals with Medical Marijuana, Recreational Cannabis, and Cardiovascular Health. He said in a statement: “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.” The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends to refrain from smoking or vaping any substance, including cannabis products. The reason is that this leads to potential harm to the heart, lungs and blood vessels. Smoking cannabis causes carbon monoxide to bind to hemoglobin and leads to tar products, which bind to lung tissue.
Senior population using more marijuana
Older adults are consuming marijuana more now than in the past. A 2020 study in the Jama Network found that between 2015 and 2018 American seniors who used marijuana regularly doubled in number.
A 2023 study compared binge drinking and the use of marijuana between 2015 and 2019. Researchers found that drinking alcohol and marijuana use increased by 450% within just 4 years. About 30% of chronic marijuana users develop an addiction to marijuana, which is now labeled cannabis use disorder.
People who suffer from cannabis use disorder get withdrawal symptoms when they want to quit, which makes them continue to use cannabis.
More heart attacks and strokes with marijuana use
People older than 65 often have several chronic conditions that deteriorate with the additional use of marijuana. One study presented Nov. 6, 2023 examined 8,535 adults who smoked marijuana, but who did not smoke cigarettes. This group of patients had 20% more heart attacks or strokes in comparison to 10 million control patients. These controls did not smoke marijuana. Both groups of patients had high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or elevated cholesterol. A blood pressure greater than 130/80 mm Hg and high cholesterol were predictors of heart attacks or strokes in the marijuana group. We know that chronic marijuana use raises blood pressure.
Study regarding marijuana and heart failure
Another study presented on Nov. 6 followed about 160,000 patients with a median age of 54 for 4 years. Physicians wanted to know whether patients who smoked marijuana would develop heart failure. At the end of the study researchers found that regular marijuana users had a 34% increased risk to develop heart failure.
A prior study found that regular marijuana users in comparison to non-users have a 34% higher risk of developing coronary artery disease. This is a serious heart disease that can turn into a heart attack.
Marijuana is not as harmless as previously assumed. Several lines of research studied the impact of marijuana. They dealt only with people who smoked marijuana regularly, but not cigarettes. This enables you to know what impact marijuana has on your health without interference from cigarette smoke. Marijuana affects both younger and older adults. But with older adults pre-existing cardiovascular disease is amplified by the effects of marijuana. In one study researchers followed 160,000 patients, 54-year-old on average, for 4 years. Regular marijuana users had a 34% increased risk to develop heart failure in comparison to controls who did not use marijuana. In another study 8,535 adults who smoked marijuana had 20% more heart attacks or strokes in comparison to controls. The bottom line is that marijuana use, either smoked or in form of edibles, puts you at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and premature death.