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Adverse Cardiovascular, Cerebrovascular, and Peripheral Vascular Effects of Marijuana Inhalation: What Cardiologists Need to Know

Published:October 30, 2013DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2013.09.042
      Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug, with approximately 200 million users worldwide. Once illegal throughout the United States, cannabis is now legal for medicinal purposes in several states and for recreational use in 3 states. The current wave of decriminalization may lead to more widespread use, and it is important that cardiologists be made aware of the potential for marijuana-associated adverse cardiovascular effects that may begin to occur in the population at a greater frequency. In this report, the investigators focus on the known cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and peripheral effects of marijuana inhalation. Temporal associations between marijuana use and serious adverse events, including myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac death, cardiomyopathy, stroke, transient ischemic attack, and cannabis arteritis have been described. In conclusion, the potential for increased use of marijuana in the changing legal landscape suggests the need for the community to intensify research regarding the safety of marijuana use and for cardiologists to maintain an awareness of the potential for adverse effects.
      Marijuana is produced by drying the leaves and flowering tops of the cannabis plant and goes by several names, including weed, pot, and ganja.

      United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Cannabis: A Short Review. Available at: http://www.unodc.org/documents/drug-prevention-and-treatment/cannabis_review.pdf. Accessed June 11, 2013.

      Worldwide, marijuana is among the most widely used illicit drugs.

      United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Cannabis: A Short Review. Available at: http://www.unodc.org/documents/drug-prevention-and-treatment/cannabis_review.pdf. Accessed June 11, 2013.

      The main active substance in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, affects cannabinoid receptor 1 in the brain and cannabinoid receptor 2 in the periphery, with predominantly psychoactive effects. Once illegal throughout the United States, marijuana is now legal for medicinal purposes in several states and for recreational use in 3 states (Alaska, Colorado, and Washington). The current wave of decriminalization may lead to more widespread use, and evidence suggests that use in the United States has been steadily increasing since 2007.
      • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
      Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-44, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4713.
      Although cannabis can be used in several forms, inhalation via smoking is the most common form of marijuana use in the United States and is the focus of this review. There are several well-recognized complications associated with marijuana use, including psychiatric, respiratory system, and cardiovascular disorders.
      • Jouanjus E.
      • Leymarie F.
      • Tubery M.
      • Lapeyre-Mestre M.
      Cannabis-related hospitalizations: unexpected serious events identified through hospital databases.
      • Hall W.
      • Degenhardt L.
      Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use.
      It is therefore important that cardiologists be aware of the potential for marijuana-associated adverse cardiovascular effects, which may begin to occur in the population at a greater frequency. Although noninhalational administration of cannabinoids has been shown to have some beneficial effects on the modulation of atherosclerotic processes in animal models,
      • Singla S.
      • Sachdeva R.
      • Mehta J.L.
      Cannabinoids and atherosclerotic coronary heart disease.
      in this review, we focus on the various adverse cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and peripheral vascular effects of marijuana inhalation in humans (Figure 1).
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Figure 1Adverse cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and peripheral vascular effects reported in association with marijuana use.

      Cardiovascular Effects of Marijuana Use

      Marijuana is more widespread than any other street drug, with an estimated 125 million to 203 million users worldwide,

      United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Cannabis: A Short Review. Available at: http://www.unodc.org/documents/drug-prevention-and-treatment/cannabis_review.pdf. Accessed June 11, 2013.

      and the potential for adverse cardiovascular effects has been recognized for >40 years.
      • Beaconsfield P.
      • Ginsburg J.
      • Rainsbury R.
      Marihuana smoking. Cardiovascular effects in man and possible mechanisms.
      • Beaconsfield P.
      Some cardiovascular effects of cannabis.
      Relatively little is known about its cardiovascular effects or the mechanism underlying such effects.
      • Hall W.
      • Degenhardt L.
      Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use.
      • Montecucco F.
      • Di Marzo V.
      At the heart of the matter: the endocannabinoid system in cardiovascular function and dysfunction.
      Published reports describe a temporal relation between marijuana use and the development of acute myocardial infarction,
      • Arora S.
      • Goyal H.
      • Aggarwal P.
      • Kukar A.
      ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction in a 37-year-old man with normal coronaries—it is not always cocaine.
      • Caldicott D.G.
      • Holmes J.
      • Roberts-Thomson K.C.
      • Mahar L.
      Keep off the grass: marijuana use and acute cardiovascular events.
      • Charles R.
      • Holt S.
      • Kirkham N.
      Myocardial infarction and marijuana.
      • Kocabay G.
      • Yildiz M.
      • Duran N.E.
      • Ozkan M.
      Acute inferior myocardial infarction due to cannabis smoking in a young man.
      • Kotsalou I.
      • Georgoulias P.
      • Karydas I.
      • Fourlis S.
      • Sioka C.
      • Zoumoulidis A.
      • Demakopoulos N.
      A rare case of myocardial infarction and ischemia in a cannabis-addicted patient.
      • Safaa A.M.
      • Markham R.
      • Jayasinghe R.
      Marijuana-induced recurrent acute coronary syndrome with normal coronary angiograms.
      cardiomyopathy,
      • Ting J.Y.
      Reversible cardiomyopathy associated with acute inhaled marijuana use in a young adult.
      • Kaushik M.
      • Alla V.M.
      • Madan R.
      • Arouni A.J.
      • Mohiuddin S.M.
      Recurrent stress cardiomyopathy with variable regional involvement: insights into etiopathogenetic mechanisms.
      and sudden cardiac death.
      • Montisci M.
      • Thiene G.
      • Ferrara S.D.
      • Basso C.
      Cannabis and cocaine: a lethal cocktail triggering coronary sudden death.
      • Daisley H.
      • Jones-Le Cointe A.
      • Hutchinson G.
      • Simmons V.
      Fatal cardiac toxicity temporally related to poly-drug abuse.
      • Bachs L.
      • Mørland H.
      Acute cardiovascular fatalities following cannabis use.
      However, careful evaluation of the cardiovascular effects of marijuana inhalation is complicated by the fact that it is often used in combination with other drugs, such as alcohol or cocaine. Additionally, in many parts of the world, marijuana is smoked in conjunction with tobacco, making it difficult to separate the specific cardiovascular effects of each substance.
      • Aryana A.
      • Williams M.A.
      Marijuana as a trigger of cardiovascular events: speculation or scientific certainty?.
      • Ghuran A.
      • Nolan J.
      Recreational drug misuse: issues for the cardiologist.
      • Henry J.A.
      • Oldfield W.L.
      • Kon O.M.
      Comparing cannabis with tobacco.
      • Pratap B.
      • Korniyenko A.
      Toxic effects of marijuana on the cardiovascular system.
      However, reports of myocardial infarction after exposure to the synthetic cannabinoid K2 suggest that the deleterious effect is likely secondary to cannabinoid exposure rather than 1 of the other nearly 500 chemical components that make up the cannabis plant.
      • Mir A.
      • Obafemi A.
      • Young A.
      • Kane C.
      Myocardial infarction associated with use of the synthetic cannabinoid K2.
      The mechanism underlying the association between marijuana use and myocardial infarction is currently unknown. It is possible that cannabis has a deleterious effect on coronary microcirculation. Rezkalla et al
      • Rezkalla S.H.
      • Sharma P.
      • Kloner R.A.
      Coronary no-flow and ventricular tachycardia associated with habitual marijuana use.
      reported a 34-year-old man who developed syncope and ventricular tachycardia after marijuana use. In the electrophysiology laboratory, ventricular tachycardia was inducible. Coronary angiography showed normal coronary arteries with a significant reduction in coronary flow. After cessation of marijuana, coronary flow reverted to normal, and the patient was no longer inducible in the electrophysiology laboratory.
      • Rezkalla S.H.
      • Sharma P.
      • Kloner R.A.
      Coronary no-flow and ventricular tachycardia associated with habitual marijuana use.
      This case suggests a possible effect of marijuana on coronary microcirculation. Other reports describe the phenomenon of slow coronary flow and resulting myocardial infarction.
      • Karabulut A.
      • Cakmak M.
      ST segment elevation myocardial infarction due to slow coronary flow occurring after cannabis consumption.
      Marijuana inhalation has been linked to a higher event rate for acute myocardial infarction and an increase in mortality after myocardial infarction. In 2001, Mittleman et al
      • Mittleman M.A.
      • Lewis R.A.
      • Maclure M.
      • Sherwood J.B.
      • Muller J.E.
      Triggering myocardial infarction by marijuana.
      addressed the question by interviewing 3,882 patients with acute myocardial infarctions about marijuana use and found that the risk for developing myocardial infarction was 4.8 times higher than average in the hour immediately after marijuana use. Several case reports describe a similar temporal relation.
      • Arora S.
      • Goyal H.
      • Aggarwal P.
      • Kukar A.
      ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction in a 37-year-old man with normal coronaries—it is not always cocaine.
      • Caldicott D.G.
      • Holmes J.
      • Roberts-Thomson K.C.
      • Mahar L.
      Keep off the grass: marijuana use and acute cardiovascular events.
      • Charles R.
      • Holt S.
      • Kirkham N.
      Myocardial infarction and marijuana.
      • Kocabay G.
      • Yildiz M.
      • Duran N.E.
      • Ozkan M.
      Acute inferior myocardial infarction due to cannabis smoking in a young man.
      • Kotsalou I.
      • Georgoulias P.
      • Karydas I.
      • Fourlis S.
      • Sioka C.
      • Zoumoulidis A.
      • Demakopoulos N.
      A rare case of myocardial infarction and ischemia in a cannabis-addicted patient.
      • Safaa A.M.
      • Markham R.
      • Jayasinghe R.
      Marijuana-induced recurrent acute coronary syndrome with normal coronary angiograms.
      Most case reports describe relatively young patients in their second or third decades with normal coronary arteries or minimal atherosclerosis, suggesting that marijuana does not lead to the development or acceleration of atherosclerotic damage in healthy adults. Such atypical presentation may explain the paucity of reports on marijuana-associated myocardial infarction despite widespread use of the drug. Marijuana use may also precipitate the development of myocardial infarction in patients with coronary artery disease.
      • Aryana A.
      • Williams M.A.
      Marijuana as a trigger of cardiovascular events: speculation or scientific certainty?.
      • Lindsay A.C.
      • Foale R.A.
      • Warren O.
      • Henry J.A.
      Cannabis as a precipitant of cardiovascular emergencies.
      • Gaziano J.M.
      Marijuana use among those at risk for cardiovascular events.
      After myocardial infarction, mortality is significantly higher in marijuana users than in the general population.
      • Mukamal K.J.
      • Maclure M.
      • Muller J.E.
      • Mittleman M.A.
      An exploratory prospective study of marijuana use and mortality following acute myocardial infarction.
      • Frost L.
      • Mostofsky E.
      • Rosenbloom J.I.
      • Mukamal K.J.
      • Mittleman M.A.
      Marijuana use and long-term mortality among survivors of acute myocardial infarction.
      In a study of 1,913 adults after hospitalization for myocardial infarction, Mukamal et al
      • Mukamal K.J.
      • Maclure M.
      • Muller J.E.
      • Mittleman M.A.
      An exploratory prospective study of marijuana use and mortality following acute myocardial infarction.
      found a 4.2-fold increased risk for mortality in marijuana users who reported consuming the drug more than once per week before the onset of the infarction compared with nonusers.
      Reports of an association between marijuana use and cardiomyopathy or sudden cardiac death are rarer than those of myocardial infarction. Two case reports describe left ventricular dysfunction associated with marijuana smoking.
      • Ting J.Y.
      Reversible cardiomyopathy associated with acute inhaled marijuana use in a young adult.
      • Kaushik M.
      • Alla V.M.
      • Madan R.
      • Arouni A.J.
      • Mohiuddin S.M.
      Recurrent stress cardiomyopathy with variable regional involvement: insights into etiopathogenetic mechanisms.
      Similarly, although occasional case reports describe sudden death after marijuana use, most patients were abusing other street drugs, precluding an accurate conclusion about the role of marijuana in causing death.
      • Daisley H.
      • Jones-Le Cointe A.
      • Hutchinson G.
      • Simmons V.
      Fatal cardiac toxicity temporally related to poly-drug abuse.
      • Bachs L.
      • Mørland H.
      Acute cardiovascular fatalities following cannabis use.
      However, Bachs and Mørland
      • Bachs L.
      • Mørland H.
      Acute cardiovascular fatalities following cannabis use.
      reported 6 cases of probable cardiac death in young adults ranging from 17 to 43 years of age that appeared to be related solely to marijuana use. In each case, toxicologic studies revealed only the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol in the blood and urine and no other drugs, and all patients were healthy before sudden death. The rarity of such reports prevents any certainty regarding the potential for direct effects of marijuana on left ventricular function or sudden cardiac death, but the presence of these cases in the published research may be a signal to look for additional cases in the future.

      Cerebrovascular Effects of Marijuana Use

      Cases of clear, documented stroke during marijuana use have been previously reported.
      • Zachariah S.B.
      Stroke after heavy marijuana smoking.
      Later reports confirmed this association, finding that strokes tend to occur during actual marijuana inhalation in episodic and heavy marijuana users.
      • Russmann S.
      • Winkler A.
      • Lövblad K.O.
      • Stanga Z.
      • Bassetti C.
      Lethal ischemic stroke after cisplatin-based chemotherapy for testicular carcinoma and cannabis inhalation.
      • Geller T.
      • Loftis L.
      • Brink D.S.
      Cerebellar infarction in adolescent males associated with acute marijuana use.
      • Marinella M.A.
      Stroke after marijuana smoking in a teenager with factor V Leiden mutation.
      Mouzak et al
      • Mouzak A.
      • Agathos P.
      • Kerezoudi E.
      • Mantas A.
      • Vourdeli-Yiannakoura E.
      Transient ischemic attack in heavy cannabis smokers—how “safe” is it?.
      reported classic transient ischemic attacks in 3 patients during marijuana use that resolved with normal full neurologic workup, suggesting a reversible effect of cannabis inhalation on the blood vessels of the brain that may be attributable to a spasm or, less likely, a temporal increase in blood pressure.
      Yeung et al
      • Yeung M.
      • Bhalla A.
      • Birns J.
      Recreational drug misuse and stroke.
      postulated that the incidence of stroke related to recreational substance abuse, including marijuana use, is likely underestimated. In 2 studies examining risk factors for stroke in young subjects, marijuana use was found to be an important risk factor for ischemic stroke.
      • Phillips M.C.
      • Leyden J.M.
      • Chong W.K.
      • Kleinig T.
      • Czapran P.
      • Lee A.
      • Koblar S.A.
      • Jannes J.
      Ischaemic stroke among young people ages 15 to 50 years in Adelaide, South Australia.
      • Wolff V.
      • Lauer V.
      • Rouyer O.
      • Sellal F.
      • Meyer N.
      • Raul J.S.
      • Sabourdy C.
      • Boujan F.
      • Jahn C.
      • Beaujeux R.
      • Marescaux C.
      Cannabis use, ischemic stroke, and multifocal intracranial vasoconstriction: a prospective study in 48 consecutive young patients.
      In 2012, Singh et al
      • Singh N.N.
      • Pan Y.
      • Muengtaweeponsa S.
      • Geller T.J.
      • Cruz-Flores S.
      Cannabis-related stroke: case series and review of the literature.
      reported a case series including 17 patients with stroke related to cannabis exposure. In 5 patients, reexposure to cannabis resulted in recurrent stroke despite the absence of other vascular risks.
      • Singh N.N.
      • Pan Y.
      • Muengtaweeponsa S.
      • Geller T.J.
      • Cruz-Flores S.
      Cannabis-related stroke: case series and review of the literature.
      There have been 2 additional case reports published describing stroke after myocardial infarction related to heavy marijuana use.
      • Renard D.
      • Taieb G.
      • Gras-Combe G.
      • Labauge P.
      Cannabis-related myocardial infraction and cardioembolic stroke.
      • Duchene C.
      • Olindo S.
      • Chausson N.
      • Jeannin S.
      • Cohen-Tenoudji P.
      • Smadja D.
      Cannabis-induced cerebral and myocardial infarction in a young woman.

      Peripheral Effects of Marijuana Use

      Several case reports describe peripheral atherosclerotic disease, known as cannabis arteritis, that is indistinguishable from thromboangiitis obliterans after cannabis consumption.
      • Noël B.
      • Ruf I.
      • Panizzon R.G.
      Cannabis arteritis.
      • Peyrot I.
      • Garsaud A.M.
      • Saint-Cyr I.
      • Quitman O.
      • Sanchez B.
      • Quist D.
      Cannabis arteritis: a new case report and a review of the literature.
      • Tennstedt D.
      • Saint-Remy A.
      Cannabis and skin diseases.
      • Grotenhermen F.
      Cannabis-associated arteritis.
      • Martin-Blondel G.
      • Koskas F.
      • Cacoub P.
      • Sène D.
      Is thrombangitis obliterans presentation influenced by cannabis addiction?.
      Although some patients inhaled cannabis with tobacco, others used pure marijuana. Martin-Blondel et al
      • Martin-Blondel G.
      • Koskas F.
      • Cacoub P.
      • Sène D.
      Is thrombangitis obliterans presentation influenced by cannabis addiction?.
      reported that even in cases when marijuana use was combined with tobacco use, thromboangiitis obliterans presented earlier in subjects with cannabis exposure. Cannabis arteritis presents with claudication, Raynaud's phenomenon, and ischemic ulcers or digital necrosis. Angiography usually shows atherosclerotic changes ranging from mild atherosclerotic plaques to total occlusion. Some patients improved with marijuana cessation.
      • Duchene C.
      • Olindo S.
      • Chausson N.
      • Jeannin S.
      • Cohen-Tenoudji P.
      • Smadja D.
      Cannabis-induced cerebral and myocardial infarction in a young woman.
      • Noël B.
      • Ruf I.
      • Panizzon R.G.
      Cannabis arteritis.

      Mechanisms Underlying Adverse Effects of Marijuana Use

      Despite the many descriptions of adverse cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and peripheral vascular events related to marijuana use, relatively little is known about the underlying mechanisms.
      • Hall W.
      • Degenhardt L.
      Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use.
      In the early 1970s, Beaconsfield et al
      • Beaconsfield P.
      • Ginsburg J.
      • Rainsbury R.
      Marihuana smoking. Cardiovascular effects in man and possible mechanisms.
      administered marijuana cigarettes to human volunteers. Within minutes, pulse rate increased from a mean of 66 to 89 beats/min, and systolic blood pressure increased slightly by 5 to 10 mm Hg. Beaconsfield et al
      • Beaconsfield P.
      • Ginsburg J.
      • Rainsbury R.
      Marihuana smoking. Cardiovascular effects in man and possible mechanisms.
      also noted an increase in peripheral blood flow consistent with the increase in pulse rate. The consequent increase in heart workload may be responsible for triggering ischemic events. Additionally, although the study was limited, electrocardiographic abnormalities were observed in 5 of 6 subjects, suggesting the possibility of direct cardiac effects.
      • Beaconsfield P.
      • Ginsburg J.
      • Rainsbury R.
      Marihuana smoking. Cardiovascular effects in man and possible mechanisms.
      Several additional mechanisms have been proposed to explain the association between marijuana use and adverse cardiovascular effects. For example, Rezkalla et al
      • Rezkalla S.H.
      • Sharma P.
      • Kloner R.A.
      Coronary no-flow and ventricular tachycardia associated with habitual marijuana use.
      reported syncope and ventricular tachycardia after marijuana use in a 34-year-old man. In the electrophysiology laboratory, ventricular tachycardia was inducible. Coronary angiography showed normal coronary arteries with a significant reduction in coronary flow. After cessation of marijuana, coronary flow reverted to normal, and the patient was no longer inducible,
      • Rezkalla S.H.
      • Sharma P.
      • Kloner R.A.
      Coronary no-flow and ventricular tachycardia associated with habitual marijuana use.
      suggesting a possible effect of marijuana on coronary microcirculation. Other reports describe the phenomenon of slow coronary flow and resulting myocardial infarction.
      • Karabulut A.
      • Cakmak M.
      ST segment elevation myocardial infarction due to slow coronary flow occurring after cannabis consumption.
      Several features of marijuana use may explain the potential for an adverse effect on patients with known coronary artery disease. For example, marijuana use is known to increase heart rate and enhance sympathetic tone.
      • Jones R.T.
      Cardiovascular system effects of marijuana.
      The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study
      • Rodondi N.
      • Pletcher M.J.
      • Liu K.
      • Hulley S.B.
      • Sidney S.
      • Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study
      Marijuana use, diet, body mass index, and cardiovascular risk factors (from the CARDIA study).
      showed that patients who used marijuana tended to have a high caloric diet and were more likely to smoke tobacco and use other illicit drugs. In 1997, Gottschalk et al
      • Gottschalk L.A.
      • Aronow W.S.
      • Prakash R.
      Effect of marijuana and placebo-marijuana smoking on psychological state and on psychophysiological cardiovascular functioning in anginal patients.
      published a randomized, double-blind, crossover study of 10 patients with documented coronary artery disease. They found that smoking marijuana decreased myocardial oxygen delivery, increased myocardial oxygen demand, and decreased the time to develop angina during exercise. A single small study published in 1976 suggests that some of the cardiovascular effects of marijuana may be attenuated by administration of β blockers.
      • Kanakis Jr., C.
      • Pouget J.M.
      • Rosen K.M.
      The effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (cannabis) on cardiac performance with and without beta blockade.
      Whether platelets play a role in marijuana-related adverse effects is currently unclear. Dahdouh et al
      • Dahdouh Z.
      • Roule V.
      • Lognoné T.
      • Sabatier R.
      • Grollier G.
      Cannabis and coronary thrombosis: what is the role of platelets?.
      reported the case of a 20-year-old patient who abused tobacco and marijuana and developed cardiac arrest and massive myocardial infarction. Angiography showed a left main artery thrombus with no evidence of underlying atherosclerotic narrowing.
      • Dahdouh Z.
      • Roule V.
      • Lognoné T.
      • Sabatier R.
      • Grollier G.
      Cannabis and coronary thrombosis: what is the role of platelets?.
      Although this may suggest an increase in platelet coagulability related to marijuana use, there is no reason to believe that this may not have been related to heavy smoking alone. Further studies are needed to investigate the effect of marijuana on human platelet function.
      Potential mechanisms for sudden cardiac death after marijuana use could be related to the development of acute myocardial infarction and or arrhythmias,
      • Arora S.
      • Goyal H.
      • Aggarwal P.
      • Kukar A.
      ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction in a 37-year-old man with normal coronaries—it is not always cocaine.
      • Caldicott D.G.
      • Holmes J.
      • Roberts-Thomson K.C.
      • Mahar L.
      Keep off the grass: marijuana use and acute cardiovascular events.
      • Charles R.
      • Holt S.
      • Kirkham N.
      Myocardial infarction and marijuana.
      • Kocabay G.
      • Yildiz M.
      • Duran N.E.
      • Ozkan M.
      Acute inferior myocardial infarction due to cannabis smoking in a young man.
      • Kotsalou I.
      • Georgoulias P.
      • Karydas I.
      • Fourlis S.
      • Sioka C.
      • Zoumoulidis A.
      • Demakopoulos N.
      A rare case of myocardial infarction and ischemia in a cannabis-addicted patient.
      • Safaa A.M.
      • Markham R.
      • Jayasinghe R.
      Marijuana-induced recurrent acute coronary syndrome with normal coronary angiograms.
      the no-reflow phenomenon,
      • Rezkalla S.H.
      • Sharma P.
      • Kloner R.A.
      Coronary no-flow and ventricular tachycardia associated with habitual marijuana use.
      or increased catecholamine levels.
      • Jones R.T.
      Cardiovascular system effects of marijuana.
      A single case report supports this notion in describing ectopic atrial rhythm related to cannabis use.
      • Fernández- Fernández F.J.
      • Caínzos-Romero T.
      • Mesías Prego A.
      • Sesma P.
      Ectopic atrial rhythm associated with cannabis use.
      Mechanisms underlying adverse cerebrovascular events may also include cerebral vasoconstriction. Ducros et al
      • Ducros A.
      • Boukobza M.
      • Porcher R.
      • Sarov M.
      • Valade D.
      • Bousser M.G.
      The clinical and radiological spectrum of reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome. A prospective series of 67 patients.
      reported 9 cases of reversible vasoconstriction syndrome that was associated with marijuana use as the only abused drug. On magnetic resonance imaging, patients showed diffuse or multifocal segmental arterial constriction. Herning et al
      • Herning R.I.
      • Better W.E.
      • Tate K.
      • Cadet J.L.
      Cerebrovascular perfusion in marijuana users during a month of monitored abstinence.
      addressed the same question using transcranial Doppler sonography, finding that marijuana increased vascular resistance and velocity in users compared with nonusers. Although the increased resistance was attenuated with abstinence, it persisted at levels higher than in nonusing controls. These findings suggest that the transient ischemic attacks and strokes seen during marijuana use may be associated with increased cerebral vascular resistance and visible changes in those vessels by magnetic resonance angiography. Peripheral vascular effects may be similar but have not been examined, and studies of the mechanisms underlying marijuana-related adverse events and measures to prevent occurrence or ensure reporting may be warranted in the future.

      Acknowledgment

      We thank the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation's Office of Scientific Writing and Publication for assistance in preparing this report.

      Disclosures

      The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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      Linked Article

      • Adverse Cardiovascular, Cerebrovascular, and Peripheral Vascular Effects of Marijuana: What Cardiologists Need to Know
        American Journal of CardiologyVol. 113Issue 6
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          We read the recent report Adverse Cardiovascular, Cerebrovascular, and Peripheral Vascular Effects of Marijuana: What cardiologists need to know by Thomas et al.1 The investigators summarized the literature concerning the adverse vascular effects of marijuana, the most widely used illicit drug in the world. We would like to point out an omission in the review.
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      • Marijuana Smoking is Associated With Atrial Fibrillation
        American Journal of CardiologyVol. 113Issue 6
        • Preview
          In their recent review, Thomas et al1 provide a concise overview of the cardiovascular effects of marijuana smoking. In fact, marijuana may acutely affect the circulatory system triggering cardiovascular events. Most published reports have focused on incidents of acute coronary syndromes, acute cerebrovascular and peripheral vascular events, and more rarely, ischemia-induced ventricular arrhythmias. However, an increasing number of case reports indicate an association between cannabis use and atrial fibrillation (AF).
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