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Daily marijuana smokers are at higher risk of heart attack and stroke, according to a study by the American Heart Association

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As marijuana legalization increases competition among providers across the country, some experts are warning about the insidious side effects of smoking.

Smoking weed every day could lead to heart health complications, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) analyzed CDC data from 434,104 respondents to examine how cannabis use is linked to cardiovascular events.

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The effects of cannabis on the risk of coronary heart disease, acute myocardial infarction and stroke were compared between people in the general adult population and people who had never smoked tobacco.

Of the respondents, approximately 4% were daily cannabis smokers, 7.1% were non-daily users, and 88.9% had not used marijuana in the past 30 days.

Smoking weed, heart health divided

Smoking weed every day could lead to heart health complications, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. (PABLO VERA/AFP via Getty Images; iStock)

The study found that daily cannabis users had a 25% increased risk of a heart attack and a 42% increased risk of a stroke.

Cannabis use was associated with “adverse cardiovascular outcomes, with heavier use (more days per month) associated with a higher likelihood of adverse outcomes,” the researchers explained.

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The co-author of the study, Dr. Abra Jeffers, from Massachusetts General Hospital, shared her reaction to the study results with Fox News Digital.

“People think marijuana is harmless. That’s not it,” she said. “We found that consuming marijuana (mainly through smoking) is just as harmful as smoking tobacco cigarettes.”

Man smoking weed in New York

Cannabis use is associated with “adverse cardiovascular outcomes, with heavier use (more days per month) associated with a higher likelihood of adverse outcomes,” the researchers said. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

“Although we reported the results for daily use, any use increases the risk – as more days of use per month is associated with a higher risk.”

According to a press release from UCSF, recreational use of cannabis is currently legal in 24 states.

In 2019, nearly 4% of Americans reported using cannabis daily, while 18% reported using it annually.

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Lead study author Salomeh Keyhani, MD, professor of medicine at UCSF, wrote in the same press release that “cannabis use is increasing in both prevalence and frequency, while conventional tobacco smoking is declining.”

She added: “Cannabis use alone may become a more important risk factor over time.”

Weed and heart monitor

“People think marijuana is harmless. That’s not it,” one doctor told Fox News Digital. (iStock)

Professor Dr. Robert Page of the University of Colorado School of Medicine serves as chair of the American Heart Association to comment on these findings.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Page said the study was “unique” because it looked at cannabis smokers separately from tobacco users.

“Cannabis is not an innocent bystander when it comes to cardiovascular health,” he said.

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He emphasized the importance of the “safety signals” that emerged from the study.

These include the need for patients to be “more transparent” with their healthcare providers about their cannabis use, while providers should be “non-judgmental.”

He added: “There needs to be shared decision-making between the patient and the provider when it comes to cannabis use. Patient-centered, non-judgmental conversations are what is truly needed.”

The doctor examines the man's heart

Patients should be “more transparent” with their healthcare providers about their cannabis use, while providers should be “non-judgmental,” stressed a doctor (not pictured). (iStock)

This is particularly important if a patient has heart disease or has suffered a cardiovascular event while using cannabis without disclosing it.

The “scary” thing about this study, Page said, is that most of the respondents were “pretty healthy.”

The largest segment of daily weed smokers were between 18 and 34 years old.

“Cannabis is not an innocent bystander when it comes to cardiovascular health.”

“These are the people who don’t normally go to their GP because they’re young and think they’re invincible,” he said. “And that’s what worries me.”

Many of Page’s patients, who are allowed to smoke weed freely in the state of Colorado, assume that it is a natural substance and that it “must be safe,” he said.

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“That’s the furthest thing from the truth,” he told Fox News Digital. “Cannabinoids have what are known as psychotropic effects, which affect your perception… and your state of mind. And like prescription medications that are psychotropic, they have side effects.”

Page added: “We need to make it clear to the public that the potential for these types of cardiovascular events exists and people need to make an informed decision.”

The doctor said he was concerned that smoking weed would repeat the history of cigarette smoking – the dangers of which “took a very long time to become established in public health.”

Marijuana in LA

Different types of marijuana are on display in Los Angeles, California. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Other methods of cannabis consumption, such as edibles, were not a focus in this study, Page noted, adding that there is “not a lot of data” on the safety of these products.

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For people using medical marijuana under the supervision of a doctor, Page reiterated the importance of weighing the risks and benefits with the medical provider.

“Adult consumers in states with modern cannabis laws have the opportunity to legally choose the safer substance.”

In a statement sent to Fox News Digital, the National Cannabis Industry Association noted that another study published by the American Heart Association in January 2024 “found no significant association between cannabis use and cardiovascular disease-related deaths in the last two years.” “Decades compared to alcohol” have been found to be associated with 65% of deaths.”

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The organization said: “This report, along with many others, shows that while cannabis use is not entirely harmless, it is clearly safer than alcohol.”

It added: “Adult users in states with modern cannabis laws have the opportunity to legally choose the safer substance, and it is time for federal laws to catch up with these state laws.”

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