Are Marijuana Users at a Risk for Stroke? 

Marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in the United States for quite a while now. But there has been recent emerging evidence that suggests that marijuana users are at a higher risk of heart disease or stroke! Does that mean that you shouldn’t smoke Marijuana? Well…

Currently, there is not enough high-quality scientific evidence that would prove that Marijuana users are at a higher risk for stroke than the general non-smoking public. More research is required in order to be sure.

What we do know, however, we’ve outlined below…

According to the Studies…

A lot of what’s currently being talked about is due to a study that discovered the relationship between cannabis and three key factors that increased the risk for strokes and heart disease (namely, blood pressure, blood vessel inflammation, and cardiac arrhythmia.) 

The associations between the stroke risk factors and cannabis lead researchers to believe that long-term or excessive use of Marijuana can lead to a greater risk of a stroke! The actual relationship between the two is still unclear, but there are plenty of studies that are currently on their way to provide a better understanding. For example…

In one particular study (performed September of 2012), researchers looked into the relationship between cannabis and Ischemic Strokes. In this study, they concluded that there did, in fact, seem to be a positive relationship between the two. Specifically, that chronic cannabis exposure can increase the chance for Ischemic Strokes or Mini-Strokes (Transient Ischemic Attacks.) 

Reoccurring TIAs

If the current studies prove true, then it would mean that chronic Marijuana users are at a higher risk of stroke (especially if they’ve had one in the past.) Whether it be a major Ischemic Stroke, or a couple of reoccurring Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs).

Even the latter can be dangerous. As repeated TIAs can result in a full-blown stroke within a couple of months. In fact, around 10-15 percent of people who experience one of these mini-strokes are likely to experience just that! 

The temporary symptoms then, that come along with these reoccurring TIAs, can become permanent and require you to go through extensive rehabilitation to train your brain and your body back into shape (which could take months, years, or even decades!) 

Knowing Your Limits with Marijuana

When it comes to safely consuming Marijuana, it’s hard to create a solid benchmark to follow. Much like with alcohol and cigarettes, Marijuana affects everyone differently. And so, the key to knowing your limits with Marijuana is to…

  • Start Low: If you’re taking Marijuana recreationally without the guidance of medical personnel, it’s important to start as low as possible. The recommended dosage for beginners is around 5 milligrams. This might even be too much for some, but it should agree with most consumers — no matter their level of experience or body type. 
  • Go Slow: Be patient. Whether you’re starting with the recommended low-dose or otherwise, Marijuana will still take some time to take effect. At a minimum, wait at least 24 hours to see if the 5 milligrams are effective before trying a higher dose!

Start low and go slow. That’s the key to safely consuming cannabis. Marijuana is considerably less damaging than any other widely distributed drug or alcohol in the market. However, it should still be consumed wisely.

Final Thoughts: Are Marijuana Users at a Risk for Stroke? 

Most of the prominent studies available in today’s journals have concluded that Marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol or, even, cigarettes. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t harmful. How harmful it is, we don’t know yet.

A lot of the major studies are still on their way to completion. And, while the studies we mentioned above could potentially suggest that there is a link, most of the research has remained inconclusive thus far. And so, it will require further review. 

 

REFERENCES: 

  1. “Marijuana Use and Ischemic Stroke.” Practical Neurology, Bryn Mawr Communications, practicalneurology.com/articles/2013-sept-oct/marijuana-use-and-ischemic-stroke. 

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