Anil Yallapragada, MD
Palmetto Health-USC Neurology
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, and its popularity is only growing. Now that people are more about open about smoking marijuana than ever before, physicians are starting to notice that marijuana use could be a risk factor for strokes in certain individuals.
Anil Yallapragada, MD, Palmetto Health-USC Neurology, said, “Marijuana is generally thought of as a benign drug, but there are reports and some concerns that it could play a significant role in causing strokes in some patients. If you have certain underlying risk factors for a stroke, marijuana use could serve to increase that risk even more.”
Dr. Yallapragada explained that a majority of strokes happen in people over the age of 65, but the number of young adults having strokes is rising, especially in South Carolina. “People who are otherwise totally healthy, such as young people and athletes, are having strokes—and their only risk factor may be marijuana use,” Dr. Yallapragada said. “This is something we need to understand better. Is marijuana use increasing the risk for a blood clot to form in a blood vessel creating a blockage? Can some marijuana users develop a cardiac arrhythmia or abnormal heart beat that can result in a clot to form that can travel to the brain resulting in a stroke?”
Marijuana use could be a risk factor for all types of strokes, but according to Dr. Yallapragada, physicians are seeing proportionally more ischemic strokes in marijuana users. An ischemic stroke is an interruption in the blood supply to the brain.
Having a stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, so it is extremely important to know the signs and symptoms. Here’s an easy way to remember them: BE FAST.
- B: balance problems.
- E: eye or vision problems.
- F: face numbness or weakness.
- A: arm or leg numbness or weakness.
- S: speech or language trouble.
- T: time – every minute of a stroke, 1.9 million brain neurons die. Don’t waste time. Call 9-1-1 right away.
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Time is critical when it comes to a stroke. Our team is on-site 24/7, with a multidisciplinary program of care and leading-edge approach for stroke patients.