Ischemic Stroke More Common in Young Cannabis Users

Strokes suffered by young adults who use cannabis are more likely to be ischemic, compared to the strokes experienced by non-users, according to a research letter published Oct. 26 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

Researchers led by Valérie Wolff, MD, PhD, examined 334 patients under the age of 45 who were hospitalized for ischemic stroke between 2005 and 2014. A total of 58 patients in the cohort were cannabis users. Results showed that intracranial arterial stenosis was the cause of stroke in 45 percent of cannabis users compared to 14 percent of non-users. At admission, cannabis users and non-users displayed similar 1-sided motor deficiency, but cannabis users displayed more visual disorders and less aphasia compared to non-users. Functional independence was similar in both groups.

According to the authors, the data show that favorable functional capacity is common in young stroke patients regardless of cannabis use. This is likely due to age-related advanced brain plasticity.

"Fighting stroke must remain a priority, including in young adults," the authors conclude. "The first step may be to inform the public regarding the potential occurrence of stroke associated with cannabis and other lifestyle risk factors."

According to Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, MACC, editor-in-chief of JACC, "The effects of cannabis have been considered benign for a long time; however, evidence continues to build about the relationship of its use with stroke."

Clinical Topics: Congenital Heart Disease and Pediatric Cardiology, Prevention, CHD and Pediatrics and Prevention, CHD and Pediatrics and Quality Improvement, Smoking

Keywords: Aphasia, Brain, Cannabis, Constriction, Pathologic, Marijuana Smoking, Risk Factors, Stroke, Young Adult

< Back to Listings