According to research published in the American Journal of Cardiology the use of cannabis is not associated with development of risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke. While acute cannabis use is associated with increased appetite and changes in blood pressure, a long-term study (the CARDIA study) with 3,617 participants from the United States found no effect of regular cannabis use on blood pressure and blood lipids.

Participants who had used cannabis on more than 1,800 days had a higher daily caloric intake, a higher alcohol intake and slightly higher blood pressure and somewhat higher triglycerid levels in blood, but no higher weight and no higher overall lipid and glucose levels than the average of the other participants. Closer analysis revealed that alcohol was responsible for the somewhat higher blood pressure and triglycerid levels. Researchers concluded that cannabis use "was not independently associated with cardiovascular risk factors, [but] it was associated with other unhealthy behaviours, such as high caloric diet, tobacco smoking, and other illicit drug use."

The CARDIA study is examining how heart disease develops in adults. It began in 1986 with a group of 5115 black and white men and women aged 18-30 years. The participants were selected so that there would be approximately the same number of people in subgroups of race, gender and education from four cities in the United States. These same participants were asked to participate in follow-up examinations during 1987-1988 (Year 2), 1990-1991 (Year 5), 1992-1993 (Year 7), 1995-1996 (Year 10), and 2000-2001 (Year 15).

(Source: Rodondi N, Pletcher MJ, Liu K, Hulley SB, Sidney S. Marijuana Use, Diet, Body Mass Index, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors (from the CARDIA Study). Am J Cardiol 2006;98(4):478-484.)


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