Medical marijuana may be a significant stroke risk in young adults

A pair of new studies set to be presented at an upcoming American Heart Association event this weekend have found stroke and heart arrhythmia risk in young adults who smoke cannabis. When compared to non-users, young adults who used cannabis were found to have twice the risk of suffering from a stroke, with frequent users have the highest risk. As well, users were at greater risk of hospitalization.

The observational study that linked marijuana use with stroke risk found that users who also smoked cigarettes had three times the risk of users who didn't smoke or vape. Though additional research on the matter is necessary, the researchers point out that increased use of marijuana for medical conditions means it is important to note the potential health risks associated with it.

A number of things could increase the stroke risk, according to the researchers, who note that regular marijuana use can trigger a variety of things, including systemic hypotension, changes in vasomotor function, and various cerebrovascular dysfunctions, all potentially contributing to the stroke risk.

In addition, a second study that will be presented this weekend found that young adults who had been diagnosed with 'cannabis use disorder' experienced a 50-percent greater risk of being hospitalized due to cardiac arrhythmia, at least compared to people who didn't use cannabis at all.

Though this use disorder was most common among middle-aged white men, the study found that African-American men ages 15 to 25 were most likely to be hospitalized due to the health condition. The findings highlight that careful use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes may be helpful, but that regular or excessive use may trigger risky health complications in some people.