Heart Health

Marijuana can make the heart beat faster and can make blood pressure higher immediately after use.1,2 It could also lead to increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and other vascular diseases.3-7 Most of the scientific studies linking marijuana to heart attacks and strokes are based on reports from people who smoked marijuana (as opposed to other methods of using it). Smoked marijuana delivers tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids to the body. Marijuana smoke also delivers many of the same substances researchers have found in tobacco smoke—these substances are harmful to the lungs and cardiovascular system.8,9

It is hard to separate the effects of marijuana chemicals on the cardiovascular system from those caused by the irritants and other chemicals that are present in the smoke. More research is needed to understand the full impact of marijuana use on the cardiovascular system to determine if marijuana use leads to higher risk of death.

  1. Sidney S. Cardiovascular consequences of marijuana use. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2002;42(S1):64S-70S.
  2. Subramaniam VN, Menezes AR, DeSchutter A, Lavie CJ. The cardiovascular effects of marijuana: are the potential adverse effects worth the high? Missouri Medicine. 2019;116(2):146.
  3. Wolff V, Armspach J-P, Lauer V, et al. Cannabis-related stroke: myth or reality? Stroke. 2013;44(2):558-563.
  4. Wolff V, Zinchenko I, Quenardelle V, Rouyer O, Geny B. Characteristics and Prognosis of Ischemic Stroke in Young Cannabis Users Compared with Non-Cannabis Users. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;66(18): 2052-2053.
  5. Franz CA, Frishman WH. Marijuana use and cardiovascular disease. Cardiology in Review. 2016;24(4):158-162.
  6. Rumalla K, Reddy AY, Mittal MK. Association of recreational marijuana use with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases. 2016;25(2):452-460.
  7. Rumalla K, Reddy AY, Mittal MK. Recreational marijuana use and acute ischemic stroke: a population-based analysis of hospitalized patients in the United States. Journal of the Neurological Sciences. 2016;364:191-196.
  8. Moir D, Rickert WS, Levasseur G, et al. A comparison of mainstream and sidestream marijuana and tobacco cigarette smoke produced under two machine smoking conditions. Chemical Research in Toxicology. 2008;21(2):494-502.
  9. US Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA. 2014.