Is Pot Smoking a Stroke Trigger?

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Healthcare Alert

EDITOR’S NOTE: A new study out of New Zealand on a relatively young cohort of research subjects (age range 18-55 with an average of 45) provides evidence that there is an association between smoking pot and stroke. As reported on MedPage Today in the excerpted article below, although further research is needed to explore the details associated with risks of cannabis and stroke, it is well established that the use of marijuana causes constriction of brain arteries as well as palpitations (irregular heart beat) such as atrial fibrillation, which is strongly associated with stroke.

The physiologic and psychological effects of pot smoking has been established and is usually discussed in terms of “recreational” and “heavy” use. It is generally thought that occasional marijuana use is rarely seriously harmful, but it is research like this that raises serious question about the impact of routine and regular use on the body and the incidence of specific associated serious medical conditions.  

With two states, Washington and Colorado, already voting in 2012 to legalize marijuana use, eight states with legal medical cannabis, seven states with decriminalized cannabis possession laws, and another eight with both medical and decriminalization laws, it is imperative to continue to investigate the medical consequences of pot.

MEDPAGE TODAY–Middle age stroke patients were 2.3 times more likely to be pot smokers than healthy middle age controls, according to a study slated for presentation here (Honolulu, HI) at the International Stroke Conference (ISC).

Marijuana is the most common illicit drug used in the United States. After a period of decline in the last decade, its use has generally increased among young people since 2007, corresponding to a diminishing perception of the drug’s risks.

“This is the largest case-controlled study ever done to show a possible link to the increased risk of stroke from cannabis,” P. Alan Barber, MD, PhD, a professor of clinical neurology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, told MedPage Today in an interview.

The study will be formally presented at the conference on Wednesday. The ISC released the information after an Australian publication reported the finding based on an embargoed press release.

Barber’s interest in the topic arose when he encountered a 30-something stroke patient who had none of the typical risk factors associated with stroke such as hypertension or diabetes — but the patient smoked pot.

He and his colleagues then searched the literature and found similar case reports associating marijuana smoking with stroke in younger adults who did not have typical risk factors.

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1 Comment

  1. I smoked pot from 1972 thru 1994. I only used it light to moderately and so far I have no signs or health issues that warrent I am a possible stroke canidate. My aunt was a heavy smoker and had a stroke and died, but her family history has issues of high blood pressure, diabeties and other problems, not to mention obesity that runs in the family. I am opposite of my family medical issues. Low blood pressure, low sugar and weight 125-130 pounds. So further and deeper medical backgrounds should be further researched before any further accusations of pot smoking causes strokes is published.

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