Marijuana Use and Strokes: Is There A Connection?

A new study of National Inpatient Sample (NIS) data suggests that increasing marijuana use in the United States has resulted in more marijuana-associated stroke events in recent years.


These findings, which were presented at the 11th World Stroke Congress in Montreal, Canada, could have important future implications as marijuana use becomes increasingly common and legalized in more areas of the United States.

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For the study, researchers assessed trends of marijuana use and marijuana-associated transient ischemic attack (TIA), acute ischemic stroke (AIS), all-cause stroke, resultant length-of-stay (LOS), and cost. They used the Mann-Kendall/Cochrane Armitage test with discharge weights to calculate these trends on a national scale.


A total of 2,317,343 US hospitalizations with recreational marijuana use from 2010 to 2014 were analyzed. Of these patients, TIA occurred in 5792 (0.2%), AIS in 19,452 (0.8%), and all-cause stroke in 32,231 (1.4%).


Although marijuana use increased steadily over the 5-year study period (from 1.1% in 2010 to 1.7% in 2014), the prevalence of TIA, AIS, and all-cause stroke remained stable.


However, with respect to marijuana-related stroke trends, the prevalence of all-cause stroke (1.3% to 1.5%) and AIS (0.7% to 0.9%) rose significantly over 5 years.


Mean hospital charges ($71,062 to $91,583) revealed increasing trends in hospitalizations for marijuana-related stroke. No distinction in LOS was observed.


“We demonstrated growing trends of stroke incidence and related cost among recreational marijuana users using NIS, which warrants further prospective studies to evaluate the marijuana-stroke association amidst legalization of recreational use,” the researchers concluded.


—Christina Vogt



Desai R, Patel K, Zahid D, et al. Trends in stroke prevalence, stroke-related hospital stay, and hospital charges among recreational marijuana users: A 5-year nationwide study in the United States. Paper presented at: 11th World Stroke Congress; October 17-20, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, Canada.