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Is Marijuana Bad For Your Heart?

A new study suggests overall safety of the cannabis plant has been vastly exaggerated.

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This story originally appeared on The Fresh Toast

A body of evidence has surfaced lately showing that the cannabis plant might not be the healthy herb that many advocates once professed it to be. The main reason it may carry harmful effects, according to experts, is because smoking cannabis — that is, physically ingesting burnt plant matter into the lungs — comes with the same health hazards as smoking tobacco.

However, the latest research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal details a rather shocking revelation. It seems that regardless of how weed is consumed — whether it is smoked, vaped, taken orally, whatever — it can lead to an increased risk of a heart attack. The study shows that adult cannabis users under 45-years-old were at nearly double the jeopardy for a chest-gripping coronary than their non-using counterparts. Yep, Americans are going from doobie to defibrillator.

RELATED: Cannabis Does Not Harden the Arteries, Studies Say

Discovering the data

Scientists didn’t even set out expressly to study heart health as it pertains to cannabis. But while examining the health data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranging from 2017 to 2018, they just so happened to find a correlation. Findings showed that out of the 17% of the adult cannabis users recorded, 1.3% had a heart attack within a month post-consumption. Meanwhile, only around 0.8% of the unstoned suffered a heart attack during that time.

Now, it should be noted that the difference between the two is only 0.5%. Nevertheless, researchers are concerned that the overall safety of the cannabis plant has been vastly exaggerated. “There’s increasing evidence that this could potentially be harmful to you, both in the short term and the long term,” lead study author Dr. Karim Ladha, clinician-scientist and staff anesthesiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto in Canada, told CNN.

What's really happening

All in all, this new research confirms that cannabis can affect the heart. It does this by causing an irregular rhythm. This can happen when the amount of oxygen a person’s heart needs to keep pumping away efficiently is increased. If it doesn’t get it, that’s when a heart attack can happen. Other studies conducted over the past few years have turned out similar results.

Diehard cannabis advocates like Mitch Earleywine, a professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Albany, are, of course, questioning the authenticity of the study. “Let’s keep in mind the fact that it’s very easy to double a number if it’s very small in the first place,” he told HealthDay News.

Earleywine even suggested that the poor diets of Americans, stress and a lack of exercise could have played a role in the results. Most days, we would be inclined to agree. However, contrary to his assessment, a connection was made between cannabis use and coronaries even after researchers eliminated other health data like smoking, drinking, and chronic illness.

RELATED: Cannabis Found to Lower Blood Pressure in Older Adults

As always, more research needed

If anything, the results of this study further cosign the need for the federal government to conduct more marijuana-related research. It’s not that Americans really care that their vices might lead to a deterioration of health, but like in the case of alcohol and tobacco, they’d like to at least know for sure what their chances are before going too deep. We know that both of those legal substances cause various health issues, from cancer to heart disease, yet we ingest them with enthusiasm each day.

It only stands to reason that the American stoner will continue its path down the highway of happiness regardless of whether there is a sliver of a chance they could suffer a cardiac. But just to be safe, you might want to skip the cheeseburger when the munchies kick in.