Valerie Wolff

Cause of strokes in young marijuana users

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According to a French study, stroke usually caused by intracranial arterial stenosis; in non-users, cardio embolisms are more likely.

French scientists examined the differences of stroke incident in young marijuana users and non-users. According to a study published in the “Journal of the American College of Cardiology”, the underlying cause of stroke in marijuana users usually differs from that of non-users. Previous studies had already found an association between marijuana use and an increased risk of stroke.

Scientists from the University of Strasbourg analysed data from all patients under the age of 45 treated for ischaemic stroke at the University Hospital of Strasbourg between 2005 and 2014. The cohort included 334 patients of which 58 were marijuana users. They were more likely to be younger and male, to smoke and to have other lifestyle risk factors.

Findings showed that, in marijuana users, stroke is often caused by intracranial arterial stenosis. This type of stenosis was found in 45 per cent of the marijuana group, but only in 14 per cent of the non-users. Non-users were more likely to have cardio embolism: this type of embolism was diagnosed in 29 per cent of non-users, but only in 14 per cent of marijuana users.

For a long time, even long-term effects of cannabis were considered to be harmless, but there is now increasing evidence of higher cannabis-use-related stroke risk. “The first step may be to inform the public regarding the potential occurrence of stroke associated with cannabis and other lifestyle risk factors,” said study leader Valerie Wolff.