Special Report

Daily Marijuana Consumption Tied to Higher Heart Disease Risk, Study Finds

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Here’s sobering news for those who smoke a lot of marijuana: Two preliminary studies being presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2023, being held Nov. 11-13 in Philadelphia, suggest that regular pot use may significantly impact heart health.

The All of Us Research Program, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, tracked more than 155,000 adults across the U.S. for 45 months. The results showed that those who reported daily use of marijuana had a 34% higher risk of developing heart failure than those who had never used it – independent of age, sex at birth, or cigarette-smoking history.

A different research group studied data from the 2019 National Inpatient Sample, a database of hospitalizations nationwide, extracting records for patients 65 or older with cardiovascular risk factors who reported not using tobacco. These were then separated into non-pot-users and those who reported regular marijuana use. Of the 28,535 individuals in the latter group, 20% had an increased chance of experiencing a major heart or brain event while hospitalized. (Click here for 25 warning signs that you are in bad health.)

Since Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational pot in 2012, cannabis use has risen substantially across the U.S., whether in conventional smokeable form or as edibles or some other oral presentation. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019, about 18% of the population, used marijuana at least once.

The number is doubtless higher today, with recreational use now legal in some 24 states, plus the District of Columbia and Guam. It is still theoretically illegal everywhere on a federal level, but the law is virtually never enforced, and last October, President Biden promised to pardon everyone convicted of the federal crime of simple marijuana possession. (See the Americans consuming the most pot: every state ranked.)

What about edibles? The AHA admits that “A limitation of the study is that it relied on data that did not specify whether the marijuana was inhaled or eaten. According to researchers, how marijuana is ingested may influence cardiovascular outcomes.”

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