Cannabis Usage Increases The Risk Of DCI 2.7 Times

According to a new research letter published in Stroke, cannabis usage is being associated with cerebral ischemia or subarachnoid hemorrhage. The single-center study researched the pattern in more than 1,000 patients and is one of the pioneering studies in the matter.

Lead author Michael Lawton, MD, president and CEO of Barrow Neurological Institute and the chair of the department of neurosurgery, "This study identified a significant relationship between cannabis use and the development of strokes after aneurysm rupture. It is one of the first and the largest study to report this finding."

Back in 2016, another similar research conducted by Reza Behrouz, MD, and colleagues, published in the same journal, found a correlation between Delayed Cerebral Ischemia after a subarachnoid aneurysm in the patients who use cannabis.

The authors of the study have taken into account 1,014 patients who went through endovascular or microsurgical treatment at Barrow Neurological Institute for aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) and their reports for a span of 12 years between August 1, 2007, to July 31, 2019. Among the patients, 419 received endovascular intervention while the rest received microsurgery. The patients were 69% female with the average age being 55.6 years.

In the modified Rankin Scale, the risk of DCI was much higher in the cannabis users compared to the nonusers (52.2 percent versus 35.4 percent). Which, in simpler terms, translates to that the regular users of cannabis are 2.7 times more at risk of suffering from DCI.

Dr. Lawton told Neurology Today, "The exact mechanism by which THC increases vulnerability to stroke may involve the mitochondrial respiratory functions, reactive oxygen species, and free radical metabolism. THC may increase the amounts of these potentially harmful agents. In addition, THC may have a direct action on the arteries that stimulates vasospasm. These mechanisms warrant further research."

He also said that the research also needs to take into account the lower threshold of DCI for cannabis users. Dr. Lawton concluded, "We have identified a previously unrecognized danger associated with cannabis use that users should consider when deciding whether to continue."

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