According to research, smoking marijuana may come with the same cardiovascular health risks as smoking tobacco would.
In a New York Times report, Dr. Salomeh Keyhani, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, spoke to Jane E. Brody and remarked, “Many people think that they have a free pass to smoke marijuana. I even heard a suggestion on public radio that tobacco companies should switch to marijuana because then they’d be selling life instead of selling death.”
Dr. Keyhani and colleages have said that marijuana smoking causes a fivefold greater impairment of the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity than compared to tobacco.
A review of medical evidence was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology earlier this year where researchers described the different risks to the heart and blood vessels that are associated with the use of marijuana.
Dr. Muthiah Vaduganathan, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who led a group of authors in the study has said that “marijuana is becoming increasingly potent, and smoking marijuana carries many of the same cardiovascular health hazards as smoking tobacco.”
Dr. Vaduganathan explained to Brody, “The combustion products a tobacco smoker inhales have a very similar toxin profile to marijuana, so the potential lung and heart effects can be comparable. When dealing with patients, we really have to shift our approach to the use of marijuana.”
The doctor’s team reported, “Although marijuana is smoked with fewer puffs, larger puff volumes and longer breath holds may yield greater delivery of inhaled elements.”
According to Dr. Vaduganathan, there has been a growing number of heart attacks among marijuana users under the age of 50. The doctor’s colleages created a registry of cases and found that young patients who had their first heart attack had marijuana smoking as an identifiable factor.
Jane Brody of the New York Times is a Personal Health columnist since 1976.