Why Getting High With This Drug Could Kill You

By on April 24, 2014
Have heart problems? Well here’s one thing to avoid: Marijuana.

The controversial research, which was reported online in the Journal of the American Heart Association, shows that those who smoked marijuana recreationally were more likely to face a cardiac event, of which 25 percent resulted in death.

The findings were originally made by researcher Emilie Jouanjus, Ph.D., a scientist from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse in France.

“Given that cannabis is perceived to be harmless by the general public and that legalization of its use is debated, data concerning its danger must be widely disseminated,” says Jouanjus. “Practitioners should be aware that cannabis may be a potential triggering factor for cardiovascular complications in young people.”

Jouanjus originally made his findings after collecting data from the French Addictovigilance Network, a network which collects information on the abuse and dependence on drugs, such as cocaine and marijuana. Between 2006 and 2010, 35 “serious” instances of cardiovascular problems associated with marijuana use were reported to this network, which primarily affected men with an average age of 34. Many of them also reported having a family history of cardiovascular disease.

As Jouanjus continued to look through the research, he also found that many of the people who reported these adverse events had to be hospitalized; nine also died. While heart attack was not one of the commonly reported complications, heart problems such as acute coronary syndrome and heart arrhythmia were commonly reported, suggesting that cannabis itself may have an effect on how it makes the heart operate.

Obviously, this sort of news isn’t good.

“While the concomitant use of other products, such as tobacco and alcohol, may have contributed to some of these events, approximately half of the patients who presented with cardiac events had a record of exposure only to marijuana,” says Shereif Rezkalla, M.D., of the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, who wrote an editorial on the study in the same journal. “We believe the time has come to stop and think about the best way to protect our communities from the potential danger of widespread marijuana use in the absence of safety studies.”

However, not all scientists agree that cannabis may pose a health hazard, including John Erwin III, M.D., from Baylor Scott and White Health.

“Marijuana use, in the form of smoking, is extremely difficult to study given lack of strong control groups with extreme variation in THC concentrations and the concomitant use of other drugs (including nicotine in the form of cigarette smoking),” says Erwin. “The other limitations are the lack of understanding as to what the true denominator is and the under-reporting of the potential numerator.”

In the meanwhile, researchers continue to emphasize that these findings are preliminary–but the evidence given may show early evidence of the dangers of marijuana.

What You Should Do

Have heart problems? While nothing has been proven thus far, there seems to be a correlation between recreational marijuana use and cardiovascular events. If your heart isn’t healthy, it’s probably best to skip it and find a better way to get your “high”–like getting an endorphin high from a sweaty bout of exercise.

Readers: Do you think marijuana could be dangerous? Why or why not?

Study Finds Casual Association Between Cardiovascular Events and Marijuana

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