Cannabis Users Have Increased Risk of Stroke and Heart Failure Interview with:

Aditi Kalla, MD Cardiology Research Fellow Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia

Dr. Aditi Kalla

Aditi Kalla, MD
Cardiology Research Fellow
Einstein Medical Center
Philadelphia What is the background for this study?

Response: As of the recent 2016 election, decriminalization of cannabis passed in several states bringing the total count up to 28 states and D.C. where cannabis is now legal for medicinal and/or recreational purposes. From a physician’s perspective, it is rare that a drug has “hit the market” so to speak without undergoing clinical trials to determine safety and efficacy. Hence, we sought out to study if cannabis had any effects (positive or negative) on the cardiovascular system. What are the main findings?

Response: We found that cannabis use independently predicted the risks of having both heart failure and a cerebrovascular accident (which is most often a stroke). In other words, even after taking into account age, sex, and traditional cardiac risk factors (including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, tobacco use, alcohol use, and coronary artery disease), cannabis users still had a 10% increased risk of having heart failure and a 26% increased risk of having a stroke. What should readers take away from your report?

Response:  Every drug has its intended effects and side effects. Our research highlights that cannabis may have cardiovascular side effects; however, more research is needed to confirm these findings and to determine the mechanism behind these potential cardiovascular complications. Learning more about how cannabis impacts heart health will allow for physicians to educate and/or prescribe cannabis in a safer manner. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We believe future research should focus on how dosing and form (inhaled versus non-inhaled) of cannabis used relates to the development of cardiovascular complications. Thank you for your contribution to the community.

Citation: ACC 2017 abstract

“Cannabis Use Predicts Risks of Heart Failure and Cerebrovascular Accidents: Results from the National Inpatient Sample,” on Saturday, March 18, at 9:30 a.m. ET at Poster Hall C at the American College of Cardiology’s 66th Annual Scientific Session in Washington. – See more at:

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on March 19, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD