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Marijuana use linked to heart problems
April 23rd, 2014
06:21 PM ET

Marijuana use linked to heart problems

Young people who use marijuana may be at risk for heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular problems, a new study suggests.

Researchers reviewed records from the French Addictovigilance Network, a national system of centers in France that gather information about drug abuse and dependence. From 2006 to 2010, they found 35 reports of patients who had experienced cardiovascular complications following cannabis use. The  study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

About 85% of the patients were men and their average age was 34. In nine cases the patient died.

While the study doesn't identify a particular level of risk of marijuana use, it does call for more research on the subject, and warns doctors that there seems to be at least some danger.

"Currently people think (cannabis is) harmless," says lead study author Emilie Jouanjus, at the Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier. "What I think is very important from my work is that we see cannabis use may lead to very serious complications on the cardiovascular system."

Jouanjus was surprised to find all but one of the patients with cardiovascular problems were under the age of 50. She believes this study shows only the tip of the iceberg, as people usually under-report their cannabis use.

"This study shows a some preliminary evidence of cardiovascular harm from marijuana but isn't conclusive,” Dr. Allen Taylor, chief of cardiology at Georgetown University School of Medicine, told CNN in an e-mail. “The study's limitations are important in that we can't know how high the risk is, just that there is a signal of risk between marijuana smoking and heart troubles.”

Taylor says it’s a shame that more isn't known about the potential harms of cannabis.

"It seems that public perception is ahead of the science," he says. "We should remain open to the scientific facts as they evolve."

Only 20% of patients in the study had a known history of heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. The other patients may have had unknown cardiovascular risk factors or a history that was not documented in the medical file.

“I'm not saying that any user of cannabis would suffer from any of these complications," Jouanjus says. But "we do not have enough information to say that cannabis use is safe."

Dr. Shereif Rezkalla. who wrote an editorial accompanying the study in JAHA, said doctors should be required to ask about marijuana use when they see a cardiac patient.

“The perception that marijuana is safe is deep-seated in the public and even amongst some health professionals,” says Rezkalla, a cardiologist at Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield, Wisconsin.

Taylor cautions that while this study doesn’t provide a final answer on the link between cannabis and serious heart problems, “it at least gives one pause to suggest to patients it may not be a heart-healthy habit."

Previous research has suggested marijuana use may double the risk of stroke in young adults.


soundoff (868 Responses)
  1. Kuron

    It might be indirectly responsible... it gives you the munchies which makes you want to eat a lot of unhealthy things like Cheetos, sweets, pizza, etc.

    May 23, 2014 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. caliboss

    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

    1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices high and NORCAL wealthy....#1 crop in cali = $15 Billion Untaxed

    "any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" – cali secret 420

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

    20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states and more blacks are in prison then were slaves before the civil war...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice...no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

    Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
    Deaths by Tobacco: Millions
    Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
    Deaths by Guns: Millions
    Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions
    Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever...they are killing my American family while denying freedom

    love and freedom forever

    AMERICA'S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS! 33

    May 23, 2014 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Mary Jane

    CNN published this article, why? it's so laughable, it debunks itself. CNN is clearly on the side of legalization.

    May 23, 2014 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Tad Sawchuk

    Wow, you are an idiot.

    April 25, 2014 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Dave

    Will.....you may want to research VAPORIZERS...........

    I actually know many of your so-called 'Braindead Junkies" that are very successful businessmen and professionals...Lawyers and DR's included......
    From your remark, it is obvious who is braindead.......now grab another beer....

    April 25, 2014 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Madtown

    noxious fumes
    ---
    MJ doesn't have the same toxic carcinogens found in cigarettes. Cigarettes are legal.

    April 25, 2014 at 10:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Gabe

    You are an idiot. So what about marijuana that can be consumed such as in edibles?

    April 25, 2014 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. JustinHale

    You might want to take a break from Lol'ing to read some actual studies,if you're capable of it. Start here,Google Kaiser Permanente cannabis and smoking studies,then Google Dr.Donald Tashkin,UCLA cannabis and smoking studies.

    April 25, 2014 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sarah

    Oh come on!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 25, 2014 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. brad

    Human's have been consuming weed for 1000s of years, and dr.s say we don't have enough research on it haha. It's true that inhaling smoke can cause problems but there is many ways to consume marijuana without these complications.

    April 25, 2014 at 19:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Eeyore

    As if I am going to trust Will, who doesn't know how to make nouns plural.

    Dude, if you want to be credible, get a friggin' education. Someone who sounds as dumb as you do is hardly a recommendation for pot.

    April 25, 2014 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Eeyore

    Sorry, that last post shouldn't have been addressed to Will but to the idiot who responded to his post.

    April 25, 2014 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. It's you

    @Eeyore – That idiot that responded to Will is.............YOU.

    April 25, 2014 at 20:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Thatguy371

    Junkies? From smoking pot? And no, air-hedd, most people consume it other ways now. Get with reality. Study more, LOL less.

    April 26, 2014 at 00:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RE

    Been using it for over 40 years with absolutely no problems. You just don't have a clue\, do you. It relieves stress, which is a good thing. Before you make stupid statements, why don't you try it, you might like it.

    April 26, 2014 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. John

    If you live in a city or near a roadnetwork, you breathe in carbon monoxide and all kinds of noxious fumes, aerosolized anti-freeze , oil from leaky head gaskets burning off a hot block, etc...... so many gases released into the air.

    April 26, 2014 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. bart

    Unlike all the chemicals big companies and your government help to put into the enviroment ?

    April 26, 2014 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
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    April 26, 2014 at 22:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. qckslvr

    Alcoholic??

    April 27, 2014 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. tony

    "Braindead junkies?" I would recommend you go back to watching your latest episode of "Duck Dynasty" or any number of other braindead activities for the mentally-impaired. Make sure you drink plenty of beers whilst viewing. We wouldn't want you to experience D.T.s from the lack of alcohol.

    April 27, 2014 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. kevin

    until people stop dying in the illicit drug trade lets not talk about health affects of a plant that has conceivably been smoked safely for ten thousand years, It is an insult to any soul that died in Marijuana related crime. We created the law and made it a crime. That is the REAL health issue HERE violent Marijuana crime folks. The weed was always okay till we screwed it up too lol!

    April 28, 2014 at 00:00 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.