Marijuana might help you see in the dark, but it might also cause what feels like a heart attack. Researchers from St. Luke's University Health Network say marijuana users are twice as likely to suffer a rare "stunning" of the heart linked to stress, known as stress cardiomyopathy or takotsubo, compared to non-users, reports HealthDay News. The condition—in which the heart is temporarily weakened, causing dizziness and chest pain—also appears to have more severe effects among marijuana users. Though marijuana users with takotsubo averaged 44 years of age, about 2.4% went into cardiac arrest, compared to 0.8% of non-users with the condition, with an average age of 66, reports Live Science. Some 2.4% of marijuana users also needed an implanted defibrillator, compared to 0.6% of non-users, researchers say.
The findings—which have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal—were presented Sunday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting, where some remained unconvinced. "I think they're extending conclusions that go beyond the data," says an AHA rep, noting researchers focused on just 210 marijuana users with takotsubo, or 0.6% of all US patients who experienced the condition between 2003 and 2011. Of alarm to researchers, however, was that marijuana users with takotsubo were mostly young men who had fewer risk factors for takotsubo than average patients, usually older women, reports CNN. Study author Amitoj Singh says THC in marijuana may interact with stress hormones to cause takotsubo, though that hasn't been proven. Either way, "marijuana does not appear to be entirely safe," he says. (Pot might also affect your IQ.)