Smoking Pot Linked Once More to Heart Problems

New study builds the case against marijuana's cardiovascular risks
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2014 11:16 AM CDT
Smoking Pot Linked Once More to Heart Problems
A young man smokes a pipe at a rally calling for the legalization of marijuana in Mexico City on May 3, 2014.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Where there's smoke, there's usually fire—and when it comes to marijuana smoke, scientists are once again fanning the embers of a long-suspected theory that the drug is linked to cardiovascular issues. According to a case study published last month in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, a 21-year-old man who was a regular pot user suffered a heart attack—and doctors identified cannabis "as the most significant precipitant of his acute coronary syndrome," LiveScience reports. It's not the first time marijuana has been tied to heart problems. Reportedly, the first documented link between the two was shown in 2000, when a Boston study indicated that a middle-aged person's risk of having a heart attack rose five times in the first hour after lighting up, the New York Times reported that year.

And earlier this year, a French study cited by LiveScience noted that of 2,000 reported marijuana complications, 2% of them were heart issues (including nine people who died). But a cause-and-effect relationship has yet to be established: Even in the recent case study, researchers admit the man's high cholesterol and cigarette smoking may have also played a role in causing his heart attack. But a cardiologist at NYU's Langone Medical Center tells LiveScience that "the case report adds to the growing body of evidence about the potential deleterious effects of marijuana use on the heart." (Pot was recently implicated in the deaths of two young men who died of complications from heart arrhythmias.)

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