And so the debate rages on.
The health effects of marijuana are definitely controversial, as we recently reported. But now, there is some new evidence that getting baked might not be the healthiest habit to have. In fact, smoking pot can hurt your heart, a new study from the American College of Cardiology suggests.
To get a handle on how marijuana affects your health long term, researchers pulled over 20 million health records from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a dataset comprising about 20 percent of all medical centers in the U.S. Specifically, they looked at medical records from patients between the ages of 18 and 55.
The scientists then combed through the data to find patients who were known pot smokers—about 1.5 percent of the patients they were looking at in that time frame—and analyzed their heart health compared to patients without a habit of getting high. Turns out, smoking pot was associated with a significantly increased risk for stroke, heart failure, coronary artery disease and sudden cardiac death.
The researchers noticed that marijuana use tended to occur in patients with other heart-unhealthy factors, like obesity, high blood pressure, alcohol use, and smoking. But even after they adjusted for these other health risks, they found that marijuana was independently associated with a 26 percent increase in the risk of stroke and a 10 percent jump in the risk of developing heart failure. What a buzzkill.
Exactly why weed has the potential to do so much damage isn‘t 100 percent clear. The researchers suggest it might have something do to with the way marijuana interacts with your heart muscle. According to previous research, the cells in your heart muscle have cannabis receptors that impact the muscle‘s ability to contract—obviously a pretty important heart function.
Now, this study is just one piece of the puzzle, though it does add some pretty important evidence to the mix. Still, the whole picture on marijuana and health remains hazy, so more research needs to be done before we can reach a firm conclusion.