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Dependence and addiction to marijuana significantly increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Canadian researchers found that people with cannabis use disorder – those who cannot stop using the drug – have up to a 60 percent higher risk of heart attack or stroke than those who do not.
The exact reason why is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to be due to the activation of the endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors in the body that respond to compounds in cannabis.
When cannabinoids – the active ingredient in cannabis – enter your system, they cause effects such as increased heart rate and constricted blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The research joins mounting evidence of the harms of regularly smoking weed.
Meanwhile, marijuana use among young adults has reached record highs. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in three high school students are drug users, while one in six regularly uses marijuana.
And 35 million Americans reported using the drug in some form last year.
Dr. Anees Bahji, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Calgary in Canada, said: ‘Our research does not provide enough information to say that cannabis use disorder causes adverse events in cardiovascular disease, but we can go so far as to say that Canadians with a cannabis use disorder appear to have a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease than those without the disorder.”
The research joins mounting evidence of the harms of regularly smoking weed
Marijuana can be used recreationally in 22 US states
The researchers used five Canadian health databases to track nearly 60,000 participants between January 2012 and December 2019.
Half of the participants had a cannabis use disorder, the other half did not. Those who had had cardiovascular disease before the study time frame were excluded.
Cannabis use disorder is loosely defined as people who smoke marijuana every day and cannot stop using the drug, even though it causes health and social problems, such as affecting their work and relationships.
It affects up to 30 percent of marijuana users, the CDC reports.
In the study, researchers compared people who had been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder with those who had not.
They did not quantify the amount of pot each participant had smoked.
During the study period, 721 (2.4 percent) of people in the cannabis use disorder group had their first cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, compared to 458 (1.5 percent) of people in the group with did. do not abuse the drug.
Adults with a cannabis use disorder had an approximately 60 percent higher risk of heart attacks and strokes than those without the disorder.
The group of people with a cannabis use disorder included those who did not have one other substance use or mental disorderso prescriptions and fewer than five visits to health care services in the past six months had an even higher risk of a first cardiovascular event – ??about 1.4 times higher than for the rest of the cannabis use disorder group.
The researchers theorized that this could be because those people thought they were healthy and might not have acted on or noticed the warning signs. of an impending heart attack, stroke or other serious cardiovascular event.
A separate study estimated that people who use cannabis have a 10 percent chance of becoming addicted, and that the likelihood of developing a cannabis use disorder is higher among people who started using it in adolescence.
The recent research was published in the journal on Thursday Addiction.