Daily marijuana users more likely to develop heart disease: Study
Those who use marijuana daily are about a third more likely to develop coronary artery disease than those who've never used the recreational drug, according to a new study.
"There are probably certain harms of cannabis use that weren't recognized before, and people should take that into account," Dr. Ishan Paranjpe, a physician at Stanford University and lead author, said in a news release about the study, which will be presented in early March at the American College of Cardiology conference.
Due to risks that come with using marijuana, users should let their doctors know about their habit, for the purpose of monitoring heart health, researchers said in the release. Those who used cannabis monthly did not show an increased risk of coronary artery disease, they found.
The study used data from the All of Us Research Program at the National Institutes of Health, which includes information about the health and habits of 175,000 people. Researchers did not look for a difference in the health status of those who smoke cannabis and those who consume edibles.
Marijuana smoke contains "many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens found in cigarette smoke, a known contributor to heart disease, as well as cancer." Its effects on the cardiovascular system have yet to be well studied because it's illegal at the federal level, resulting in restrictions on researchers, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
"As a result, everything we're told about what marijuana does or doesn't do should be viewed with a certain amount of caution," the organization writes. "This holds equally true for the risks as well as the benefits."
That said, cannabis consumption has been shown to cause arrhythmia and fast heartbeat, and potentially sudden death, as well as to an increased risk of heart attack, according to a 2017 article in the Journal of Thoracic Disease. Other studies suggest there are links between marijuana and atrial fibrillation, the most common heart rhythm disorder, and that smoking pot may raise the risk of stroke, according to Harvard Health.
Nearly half of U.S. states have legalized recreational use of marijuana, and the majority allow its use for medicinal purposes. Nearly 90% of U.S. adults think marijuana should be legal, either for recreational and medical use, or just for medical use, according to a November 2022 report from the Pew Research Center.
More than 2 million Americans with known cardiovascular disease are thought to have used marijuana, according to a 2020 article published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.