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Researchers from Switzerland and the United States write in the latest study that the long-term effects of marijuana on cardiovascular health are underestimated. As such, they examined data from the CARDIA study (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults), a cohort of 5,115 black and white women and men attending 20th grade. In particular, they considered hardening of the arteries in mid-life and during lifetime exposure to marijuana and tobacco smoking.
“While cumulative tobacco use has been strongly linked to high intima-media thickness of the carotid artery,” said a blog post by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, this was not the case with marijuana.
Photo by Vadzim Kushniarou / Getty Images
“This study complements the growing body of evidence that there may be no association between average marijuana use in the population and subclinical atherosclerosis,” the researchers write.
However, the results and comments remain mixed. In 2019, the Harvard Heart Letter stated that “Research has shown that the risk of having a heart attack in the hour after smoking marijuana is many times higher than normal. While this doesn’t pose a significant threat to people with minimal cardiovascular risk, it should be a red flag for those with a history of heart disease. “
And a study last year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology indicated that “cannabis is becoming more potent and smoking marijuana carries many of the same cardiovascular health risks as smoking tobacco.” The authors encouraged medical screening for marijuana use “particularly in young patients with cardiovascular disease”.
However, the American Heart Association issued a statement last year indicating that legal barriers to funding cannabis-related research and clinical trials should be removed in order to better understand the potential risks and benefits of the plant.