For the first time in the history of the modern era smoking tobacco is not the most popular inhaled product. After a flurry of legislature, cannabis has come to the forefront of both medicinal and recreational drug use. A confluence of evidence suggests, however, that marijuana consumption may confer a particularly worrisome cardiovascular risk profile. While combustible forms still contain many of the same harmful chemicals found in tobacco such as aromatic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and nitric oxide, some in even greater concentrations than tobacco, edible preparations have been evidenced to cause more cardiovascular-related emergency department visits. Importantly, this body of evidence suggests that cannabis use may be placing a younger, healthier population at risk of suffering major cardiovascular accidents particularly in the moments immediately following consumption. With males in their 30’s apparently bearing the brunt of this burden, cannabis consumption has been associated with an increase in ischemic stroke-a blockage in the cerebral or cerebellar vasculature-and almost a fivefold increase in myocardial infarction. THC containing compounds have also been linked to vascular complications ranging from mild plaques to total arterial occlusion resulting in claudication, rest pain, ischemic ulceration and gangrene-recently termed cannabis arteritis. While this research remains in a nascent stage, marijuana consumption seems to be predisposing a youthful, traditionally low health risk cohort to a variety of major adverse cardiovascular events.
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