Marijuana Use and the Risk of Early Ischemic Stroke: The Stroke Prevention in Young Adults Study

Tara Dutta, Kathleen A. Ryan, Oluwatosin Thompson, Haley Lopez, Natalie Fecteau, Mary J. Sparks, Seemant Chaturvedi, Carolyn Cronin, Prachi Mehndiratta, Joel R. Nunez Gonzalez, Michael Phipps, Marcella Wozniak, Patrick F. McArdle, Steven J. Kittner, John W. Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Purpose: Few studies have examined the dose-response and temporal relationships between marijuana use and ischemic stroke while controlling for important confounders, including the amount of tobacco smoking. The purpose of our study was to address these knowledge gaps. Methods: A population-based case-control study with 1090 cases and 1152 controls was used to investigate the relationship of marijuana use and early-onset ischemic stroke. Cases were first-ever ischemic stroke between the ages of 15 and 49 identified from 59 hospitals in the Baltimore-Washington region. Controls obtained by random digit dialing from the same geographic region were frequency-matched to cases by age, sex, region of residence and, except for the initial study phase, race. After excluding subjects with cocaine and other vasoactive substance use, the final study sample consisted of 751 cases and 813 controls. All participants underwent standardized interviews to characterize stroke risk factors and marijuana use. Unconditional logistic regression analysis was used to assess the relationships between marijuana use and risk of ischemic stroke, adjusting for age, sex, race, study phase, the amount of current tobacco smoking, current alcohol use, hypertension, and diabetes. Results: After adjusting for other risk factors, including the amount of current tobacco smoking, marijuana use was not associated with ischemic stroke, regardless of the timing of use in relationship to the stroke, including ever use, use within 30 days, and use within 24 hours. There was a nonsignificant trend towards increased stroke risk among those who smoked marijuana at least once a week (odds ratio, 1.9 [95% CI, 0.8-4.9]). Conclusions: These analyses do not demonstrate an association between marijuana use and an increased risk of early-onset ischemic stroke, although statistical power was limited for assessing the association among very heavy users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3184-3190
Number of pages7
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • cannabis
  • ischemic stroke
  • population
  • risk factors
  • tobacco smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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