Smoking, vaping, or eating cannabis can put you at risk for heart problems--here's how it compares to drinking alcohol

Smoking, vaping, or eating cannabis can put you at risk for heart problems--here's how it compares to drinking alcohol

Alcohol and marijuana are two substances that can have negative effects on the heart, and recent research suggests that cannabis may be a surprisingly risky choice. Although alcohol and marijuana work differently in the body, the potential for negative cardiac outcomes increases with higher consumption of either substance.

Here's a breakdown of the latest research on drug use and heart health.

Alcohol and marijuana are both linked to heart problems

When it comes to the impact of alcohol and marijuana on heart health, the key takeaway is that both substances can have negative effects on the heart, and the risk increases with higher consumption.

Although alcohol and marijuana work differently in the body, the potential for negative cardiac outcomes increases with higher consumption of either substance.

Cannabis may be especially risky

A recent study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging suggested that smoking cannabis may be surprisingly risky for heart health. The study found that smoking cannabis led to impaired blood vessel function and was associated with inflammation and injury to the heart.

The study's lead author, Dr. Mohamed Chandy, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, believes that smoking cannabis is a significant risk to the heart. Dr. Chandy and his team studied the effects of smoking cannabis in healthy adults without heart disease and found that it significantly impaired how their blood vessels functioned, which could be detrimental to heart health over time.

Although previous studies on the topic have been primarily observational, this study was a well-controlled, randomized clinical trial, considered to be the gold standard for research.

Alcohol is still the biggest risk

While smoking cannabis may be a significant risk to the heart, alcohol is still considered the biggest risk factor for cardiovascular disease. According to the World Heart Federation, alcohol consumption is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, contributing to around 1.8% of all cardiovascular deaths in men and 1.5% in women.

The organization recommends no more than 100 grams of alcohol per week, which is equivalent to around 12.5 units or six glasses of wine. Exceeding this amount can significantly increase the risk of stroke, heart failure, and coronary disease.

Dr. Chandy says that compared to alcohol, marijuana is still safer, but that doesnt mean its entirely safe.

Unlike alcohol, which is legal and regulated, marijuana is legal in many places but still largely unregulated. This means there are few standards for packaging and labeling marijuana products, and the potency can vary drastically between products and manufacturers.

This variation in potency is a significant concern for Dr. Chandy, especially given the rising concentrations of THC in marijuana products, which can be as high as 85%. According to Dr. Chandy, the concentration of THC in marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s was no more than 3%.

So, what should you do?

The take-home message is that while alcohol is still considered the biggest risk factor for heart problems, smoking cannabis is not without its risks. According to Dr. Chandy, marijuana is safer than alcohol but not completely risk-free.

If you choose to consume marijuana, it's essential to be aware of the potential risks to your heart and consider lowering your exposure to protect your heart health. This may involve cutting down on the amount of marijuana you consume, choosing products with lower concentrations of THC, and avoiding smoking or vaping cannabis.

It's also worth noting that while the research on CBD and its potential heart health benefits is promising, much of it is still in its early stages, and more research is needed.

Lastly, it's important to remember that regardless of the substance, any consumption outside of its intended purposes can pose serious, if not fatal, risks to your health.

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