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Marijuana Use Linked to Higher Risk of Strokes and Heart Attacks

Marijuana use of any kind, including smoking, vaping or consuming edibles, is linked to a higher risk of strokes and heart attacks, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association last month. The study found that those who consume the drug regularly have an increased risk of life-threatening medical conditions compared to non-users. However, stroke risk jumped to 42 percent and heart attack to 25 percent when the drug is consumed daily. The risks were found regardless of prior heart conditions or whether or not cannabis users also consumed tobacco.1

The study analyzed data on 430,000 adults collected between 2016 and 2020 through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a national phone survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The findings mirror previous studies on marijuana usage, which found a heightened risk of coronary artery disease (by one-third compared with people who do not consume the drug). Two other previous studies found that adults, who do not use tobacco but do use marijuana, had a higher risk of stroke and heart attack when hospitalized. Daily marijuana users were 34 percent more likely to develop heart failure.2

Cannabis Use Linked to Significant Cardiovascular Risks Despite Decrease in Tobacco Use

Tobacco use may be on the decline, but marijuana use is reaching an all-time high among all age groups and poses similar risks to those facing tobacco users. ​​“Cannabis smoke is not all that different from tobacco smoke, except for the psychoactive drug: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) vs. nicotine,” said lead study author Abra Jeffers, a data analyst at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston researching tobacco and smoking cessation. “Our study shows that smoking cannabis has significant cardiovascular risks, just like smoking tobacco. This is particularly important because cannabis use is increasing, and conventional tobacco use is decreasing,” Jeffers.2

According to the American Lung Association, marijuana is the most commonly abused drug and can cause a number of chronic illnesses including acute bronchitis, but it is not as carcinogenic as tobacco smoke. Still, marijuana is detrimental to lung function as it destroys cells that help remove dust and germs, weakening the body’s ability to fight infection.3

Bronchiolitis Obliterans on the Rise in E-Cigarette Users Consuming Cannabis

Inhaling aerosol created by an electronic cigarette, also known as “vaping,” continues to trend among younger and older people alike, with the long-term risks largely unknown given the novelty of e-cigarette products. Adults aged 25–44 make up nearly 70 percent of the e-smoking population. Many marijuana consumers prefer to ingest the drug via e-cigarette, causing health experts to sound the alarm. The American Lung Association warns against vaping cannabis specifically, as cannabis concentrates or liquids may have similar respiratory health effects as e-cigarette use.3 4

One article by the National Institute on Drug Abuse published in Current Opinion in Immunology suggests a link exists between “popcorn lung”—another term for bronchiolitis obliterans (BO), a disease that causes a buildup of scar tissue in the small airways—and vaping. According to the piece:

Vaping introduces hundreds to thousands of chemicals into the delicate airways and alveoli of the lung, causing a myriad of both acute and chronic diseases in humans. Other toxins found in e-cigarette vapor with inhalant and systemic toxicities include terpenes, acrylonitrile, formaldehyde, crotonaldehyde, propylene oxide, acrylamide, and heavy metals.5

Popcorn lung was first discovered when workers in a microwave popcorn factory became ill after inhaling diacetyl, a chemical used to infuse the butter flavor in microwave popcorn, which is also found in many e-cigarette flavors.

Long-Term Vaping Can Lead to Increased Incidence of Cancer

The study stated:

E-cigarettes have been marketed as a form of harm reduction from traditional cigarette smoking, but neither the safety nor the efficacy of these devices has been established, and little is known about the short and long-term pulmonary and systemic health effects. Because vaping aerosols contain chemicals that are cytotoxic and cause DNA damage, it is unsurprising that murine models have demonstrated increased occurrence of lung toxicities. Thus, it is hypothesized that long-term vaping will lead to increased incidence of cancer.

Robert Page II, a professor of clinical pharmacy and physical medicine at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Aurora, Colorado warns against the dangers of vaping cannabis: “The latest research about cannabis use indicates that smoking and inhaling cannabis increases concentrations of blood carboxyhemoglobin (carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas), (and) tar (partly burned combustible matter) similar to the effects of inhaling a tobacco cigarette, both of which have been linked to heart muscle disease, chest pain, heart rhythm disturbances, heart attacks, and other serious conditions,” he said in an interview with CNN. “You need to treat this just like you would any other risk factor (for heart disease and stroke) and honestly understand the risks that you were taking.”5

Daily marijuana in the United States use reached its highest level reported back in 2022, with past-year marijuana use among adults aged 35 to 50 also reaching an all-time high in 2022.6


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Click here to view References:
1 Saad M, Elgendy IY, Mentias A et al. Impact of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on outcomes of patients hospitalized with atrial fibrillation. Journal of the American Heart Association 2021; 10(14): e030178.
2 LaMotte S. Any use of marijuana linked to higher risk of heart attack and stroke, study says. CNN Feb. 28, 2024.
3 American Lung Association. Marijuana and Lung Health. Feb. 14, 2024.
4 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” 2021,
5 Casey AM et al. “Vaping and e-cigarette use. Mysterious lung manifestations and an epidemic.” Current Opinion in Immunology 2020; 66: 143-150.
6 National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana and Hallucinogen Use, Binge Drinking Reached Historic Highs Among Adults 35 to 50.” NIDA News & Events Aug. 17, 2023.

7 Responses

  1. The gold star national phone survey… Until you can bring me a mechanism of action for how canabinoids induce strokes and heart attack, I believe this to simply be more of the same attacking alternative health that might take revenue from Big Pharma.

  2. I agree with Zackary. Seems like the vaccinereaction is having trouble coming up with good credible news. They often parrot what’s been reported from other vaccine news weeks later. I’m afraid this time you chose to parrot news about a study that hasn’t even been published. Most probably it is flawed. Coming from Stanford, AMA and reported by CNN. You’ve got to be joking. These are pharma’s biggest deceptive players in the game of misinformation, disinformation and malinformation. Sounds like somebody is trying to put the blame on the mRNA vaccine side effects like strokes, heart attacks, arrhythmia etc. and this is how they do it. Too bad the vaccine reaction fell for it. Unless somebody on staff has it out for a marijuana users.

  3. The gist of this ‘study’ is to compare smoking marijuana with cigarette smoking: “. . . similar to the effects of inhaling a tobacco cigarette, both of which have been linked to heart muscle disease, . . . ” The fallacy here is that cigarette smoking can be addictive due to nicotine content. It’s not unusual for a heavy smoker to consume one or two packs (40 cigarettes) a day in support of the addiction. Smoking marijuana is generally consumed one joint (or a partial joint) at a time and THC has been shown to be non-addictive, though chronic use can be habit-forming. The attempt to equate the damage caused by cigarette smoking with MJ consumption is a fallacy.

    1. As a former marijuana user, I can testify to it’s bad effects. My husband is still addicted and has not been able to quit. It is destroying his health and his relationship with his children.

  4. Before I worry about ingesting pot in its various forms I would consider other, more nefarious toxins
    like genetically modified foods, artificial sweeteners, mRNA vaccines in pork, fish tainted with heavy metals, plastic bottles that off gas pfas, the chemical cocktails we’re being sprayed with everyday and the list goes on. Also the beneficial properties of pot far exceed the so called negative effects these so called fact checkers are proclaiming. Actually, I can’t think of anything a person ingests or breathes in that doesn’t have detrimental side effects. Probably best to live your life as you see fit, worrying about all the “what ifs” will only add stress to the toxicity.
    I do appreciate the NVIC newsletter and all the sincere people who post here, you guys rock!
    Just my two cents from an old fart in Idaho.

  5. hmmm. with all the evidence now that studies ain’t what they used to be, I don’t believe this one for a minute.

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