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can weed cause a stroke

Heavy Marijuana Use Could Double Stroke Risk for Young People, Study Suggests

For those who used marijuana frequently and also smoked cigarettes or e-cigarettes, the risk was even greater.

Young people who use marijuana frequently are more than twice as likely to have a stroke compared to those who don’t use the drug at all, according to a new study.

The findings, which will be presented next week at the annual American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions meeting in Philadelphia, add to a growing body of research linking marijuana use to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems. The new study, which will also be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Stroke, is one of the first to specifically focus on the risk of stroke in young cannabis users (under age 45).

The researchers analyzed results from a national survey, called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which had published data on marijuana use and stroke incidence.

The authors compared the frequency of marijuana use to the incidence of stroke in people ages 18 to 44 years old. Among the 43,860 participants, 13.6% had used marijauna in the last 30 days. (The data doesn’t specify the way in which participants used marijuana, though a majority of the survey respondents said they smoked it). Marijuana users tended to also report heavy drinking and use of tobacco cigarettes.

The authors found that frequent marijuana users, or people who used marijuana more than 10 days a month, but who did not use tobacco products were nearly 2.5 times more likely to have a stroke than people who did not use marijuana, according to a statement.

For those who used marijuana frequently and also smoked cigarettes or e-cigarettes, the risk was even greater. These individuals were nearly three times more likely to have a stroke, compared with those who didn’t use either marijuana or cigarettes.

But these findings show only an association and cannot prove that marijuana use causes strokes. The authors noted that other substances, such as alcohol, may also influence the risk of stroke seen in the study, even though the scientists attempted to adjust for additional substance use in their analysis.

What’s more, even if there is a cause-and-effect relationship between marijuana use and stroke, researchers don’t exactly know how the drug might be leading to stroke. Marijuana use has been linked to an increased number of blood clots, which might, in turn, increase the risk of stroke, according to a previous Live Science report.

Cannabis might also trigger “reversible cerebral vasoconstriction,” or a temporary narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain that has been linked with stroke, said lead author Dr. Tarang Parekh, a health policy researcher at George Mason University in Virginia.

“In the current discussion of legalization of marijuana in the United States, we believe this study was a crucial step towards” understanding stroke risk in young marijuana users, Parekh told Live Science. “Even though cannabis is not [as] harmful or addictive as other substances, we cannot ignore its potential health risks.”

A separate study, which will also be presented at the AHA meeting next week, found a link between marijuana use and an increased risk of heart arrhythmia (or rhythm problems) in young adults. The authors found that young people, or those between the ages of 15 and 34, who have cannabis-use disorder had a 47% to 52% increased risk of being hospitalized because of an arrhythmia.

The latter study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Young people who use marijuana frequently are more than twice as likely to have a stroke compared to those who don’t use the drug at all, according to a new study.

Stroke in marijuana users linked to arterial stenosis

Marijuana is known to be linked with stroke. A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that it causes a different kind of stroke than in non-marijuana users.

Share on Pinterest Marijuana users are at risk of stroke caused by arterial stenosis.

The new study, the first to investigate differences in stroke between marijuana users and non-users, found that ischemic strokes in young adults who use marijuana are more likely to result from stenosis, or narrowing of the arteries in the skull, than strokes in non-users.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the US. It consists of dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. These contain the mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related compounds.

Use is widespread among young people, growing numbers of whom believe that it is not dangerous.

With four US states and DC having legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 19 other states legalizing marijuana in some form, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) state that it is “particularly important for people to understand what is known about both the adverse health effects and the potential therapeutic benefits linked to marijuana.”

As a medication, clinical trials are currently taking place to investigate the use of cannabinoids to treat conditions such as multiple sclerosis; and there are already two preparations approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) involving THC.

Ischemic stroke is caused by a blockage that interrupts or reduces blood flow to the brain, as opposed to hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures.

Two causes of ischemic stroke are intracranial arterial stenosis – when plaque builds up and narrows the arteries inside the skull – and cardioembolism – where a blood clot forms in the body and moves to the brain.

The researchers, from the University Hospital of Strasbourg in France, led by Dr. Valerie Wolff, PhD, looked at all patients under age 45 admitted with ischemic stroke from 2005-2014 to create a cohort of 334 patients, including 58 who were marijuana users.

Ischemic stroke in marijuana users was more likely to be caused by intracranial arterial stenosis. Cardioembolism was the most common cause of ischemic stroke in non-marijuana users.

In marijuana users, 45% of strokes were caused by intracranial arterial stenosis, and 14% by cardioembolism; in non-marijuana users, 14% were caused by intracranial arterial stenosis and 29% by cardioembolism.

Marijuana users in the study were younger, more likely to be male, to smoke tobacco, and to have other lifestyle risk factors than non-users in the study.

The authors say:

“ Fighting stroke must remain a priority, including in young adults. The first step may be to inform the public regarding the potential occurrence of stroke associated with cannabis and other lifestyle risk factors.”

According to the NIDA, marijuana has long-term or permanent effects on brain development, especially among teens, including how the brain builds connections between areas needed for thinking, memory and learning; this can lead to lower achievement in education.

Use has also been linked to symptoms of mental illness, including temporary hallucinations and paranoia, and worsening of symptoms of schizophrenia.

If a mother smokes during pregnancy, there is a higher risk of fetal and infant developmental and behavioral problems.

Physical effects include breathing and lung problems similar to those of tobacco, and elevated heart rate, which could lead to a heart attack.

Moreover, the increasing amount of THC in marijuana over the past few decades is believed to increase the risk for addiction.

When marijuana users suffer stroke, it is more likely to be caused by arterial stenosis than by cardioembolism, unlike in non-users.