(CNN) --

Smoking, vaping or ingesting marijuana is linked to a significantly increased risk of heart attack and stroke, even if a person had no existing heart disease and did not smoke or vape tobacco, according to a new study.

Both daily users and non-daily users had an increased risk of heart attack and stroke compared to non-users, with the risk of stroke increasing by 42% and the risk of heart attack increasing by 25% if consumed cannabis daily, the study found.

The risk increased as the number of days of marijuana use increased.

"Cannabis smoke is not that different from tobacco smoke, except for the psychoactive drug: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) versus nicotine," says the study's lead author, Abra Jeffers, a data analyst at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. , who investigates tobacco and how to quit.

"Our study shows that smoking cannabis has significant cardiovascular risks, as does smoking tobacco. This is especially important because cannabis use is increasing and conventional tobacco use is decreasing," Jeffers says in a statement.

The study's findings mirror other research that has found that daily marijuana use is linked to an increase in coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke, said Robert Page II, professor of clinical pharmacy and physical medicine at the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Colorado, Aurora.

Marijuana smoke contains many of the "same toxins, irritants and carcinogens as tobacco smoke," according to the American Lung Association.

(Credit: Juanma Hache/Momento RF/Getty Images).

"The findings of this study have very important implications for population health and should be a call to action for all professionals, as this study adds to the growing literature that cannabis use and cardiovascular disease can be a potentially dangerous combination," Page said in a statement.


Page, who was not involved in this study, chaired the volunteer writing group for a 2020 scientific publication on medical and recreational marijuana use and cardiovascular health.

The danger is real for both young and old

The study, published this Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, analyzed data from 430,000 adults collected between 2016 and 2020 through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a national telephone survey conducted each year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. United States Disease Control and Prevention.

People who participated in the survey ranged in age from 18 to 74 years, with an average age of 45 years.

Nearly 90% of adults did not use marijuana, while more than 63% had never used tobacco.

Among current marijuana users, almost 74% reported that smoking was the most common form of consumption;

4% were daily users, while 7% consumed less than once a day.

Nearly 29% of daily marijuana users and 44% of non-daily users never used tobacco cigarettes.

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Younger adults - defined as men under 55 and women under 65 - who used marijuana had a 36% increased risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke, regardless of whether they also used traditional tobacco products.

Heart disease and marijuana use, a known link

Previous research has already found a link between heart disease and marijuana use.

A February 2023 study found that using marijuana daily can increase the risk of coronary heart disease by a third compared to those who never use it.

Coronary heart disease is caused by the buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart.

Also called atherosclerosis, it is the most common type of heart disease, according to the CDC.

Two studies published in November found that older adults who do not smoke tobacco but use marijuana have an increased risk of both a heart attack and a stroke (a serious medical condition that occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted). or reduces) when they are hospitalized, while people who use marijuana daily are 34% more likely to develop heart failure.

Marijuana use is increasing among older adults.

A 2020 study found that the number of Americans over age 65 who smoke marijuana or use edibles doubled between 2015 and 2018.

The American Heart Association advises people to refrain from smoking or vaping any substances, including cannabis products, due to the potential harm to the heart, lungs and blood vessels.

"The latest research on cannabis use indicates that smoking and inhaling cannabis increases blood concentrations of carboxyhemoglobin (carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas), (and) tar (partially burned fuel matter) similar to the effects of inhaling a tobacco cigarette, both of which have been linked to heart muscle disease, chest pain, heart rhythm disturbances, heart attacks and other serious conditions," Page told CNN in a previous interview.

"You have to treat this like any other risk factor (for heart disease and stroke) and honestly understand the risks you are taking," he said.