Triggering Myocardial Infarction by Marijuana


Background: Marijuana use in the age group prone to coronary artery disease is higher than it was in the past. Smoking marijuana is known to have hemodynamic consequences, including a dose-dependent increase in heart rate, supine hypertension, and postural hypotension; however, whether it can trigger the onset of myocardial infarction is unknown.

Methods and Results: In the Determinants of Myocardial Infarction Onset Study, we interviewed 3882 patients (1258 women) with acute myocardial infarction an average of 4 days after infarction onset. We used the case-crossover study design to compare the reported use of marijuana in the hour preceding symptoms of myocardial infarction onset to its expected frequency using self-matched control data. Of the 3882 patients, 124 (3.2%) reported smoking marijuana in the prior year, 37 within 24 hours and 9 within 1 hour of myocardial infarction symptoms. Compared with nonusers, marijuana users were more likely to be men (94% versus 67%, P<0.001), current cigarette smokers (68% versus 32%, P<0.001), and obese (43% versus 32%, P=0.008). They were less likely to have a history of angina (12% versus 25%, P<0.001) or hypertension (30% versus 44%, P=0.002). The risk of myocardial infarction onset was elevated 4.8 times over baseline (95% confidence interval, 2.4 to 9.5) in the 60 minutes after marijuana use. The elevated risk rapidly decreased thereafter.

Conclusions: Smoking marijuana is a rare trigger of acute myocardial infarction. Understanding the mechanism through which marijuana causes infarction may provide insight into the triggering of myocardial infarction by this and other, more common stressors.

Mitleman MA, Lewis RA, Maclure M, Sherwood JB, Muller JE. Triggering myocardial infarction by marijuana. Circulation 2001;103(23): 2805-9.
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United States