cannabis marijuana

Stroke Risk May Be Higher Among Young Cannabis Users Interview with:
Rupak Desai, MBBS
Research Fellow, Division of Cardiology
Atlanta VA Medical Center What is the background for this study?

Response: Amidst legalization of therapeutic and recreational use of marijuana/cannabis in the United States, cerebrovascular effects of marijuana use remain largely unknown, especially among young adults. We examined the association between cannabis use (18–44 years) among young adults and stroke events. The study analyzed pooled data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (2016–2017)—a nationally representative cross-sectional survey collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall, 13.6% of total 43,860 young adults (18-44 years) reported using cannabis recently (in the last month), with 63.3% of them being men. Compared with nonusers, marijuana users were often younger, non-Hispanic white or black, and with some college education. What are the main findings? 

Response: Young adults with recent marijuana use showed nearly 2 times higher odds of stroke compared with nonusers, which further increased to 2.5 times higher among frequent marijuana users (>10 days/month).

Most notably, compared with non-users, stroke risk was nearly 3 times higher among young adults with frequent cannabis use and concomitant combustible cigarette use and e-cigarette use. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Young cannabis users, especially those who use tobacco and e-cigarette and have other risk factors for strokes, such as high blood pressure, should understand that they may be at 2-3 times higher risk of having a stroke at a young age compared to non-users. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The findings of this observational should be considered preliminary and future prospective longitudinal studies are warranted to endorse our findings. However, these crucial findings should not be ignored by young cannabis users and physicians.

As medicinal and recreational use has become increasingly common across the US, getting precise large-scale data is vital to understand the overall cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health effects of cannabis taking mode, dose and duration of cannabis use into consideration. Spreading awareness regarding the potential risk of stroke at young age among cannabis users and screening of young cannabis users at an earlier age for potential risk factors of future heart attacks, rhythm disturbances or stroke should be encouraged among clinicians.

No disclosures


Parekh T, Pemmasani S, Desai R. Marijuana Use Among Young Adults (18-44 Years of Age) and Risk of Stroke: A Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Analysis. Stroke. 2019; STROKEAHA119027828.

DOI: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.119.027828. [Epub ahead of print]

PMID: 31707926



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Last Updated on November 17, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD