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Secondhand marijuana smoke may impair cardiovascular function

Science Spotlight

July 28, 2016

Pre-clinical research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests that secondhand marijuana smoke may cause longer lasting cardiovascular harm than secondhand tobacco smoke.

Image Courtesy of NIDA Image Courtesy of NIDA

In this study, rats were exposed to secondhand marijuana or tobacco smoke at moderate to high levels (equivalent to secondhand tobacco exposure in restaurants that allow smoking). Blood vessel function was tested before and after exposure by measuring flow-mediated dilation (FMD), which is the extent to which arteries enlarge in response to increased blood flow. Dysfunctional FMD indicates potential cardiovascular impairment, since proper FMD ensures there is sufficient blood flow through the heart and rest of the body. The researchers found that just one minute of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke produced FMD impairment that lasted for at least 90 minutes. In contrast, impairment from one minute of secondhand tobacco exposure was recovered within 30 minutes.

More research is needed to determine levels of secondhand marijuana exposure under different real world situations. Such research would better inform policy discussions on marijuana use in enclosed public spaces.

For a copy of the abstract, "One minute of marijuana secondhand smoke exposure substantially impairs vascular endothelial function," published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, go to https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.116.003858.

To learn more about the health effects of marijuana, go to: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/.

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245. Follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

NIDA Press Office

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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    NIDA. (2016, July 28). Secondhand marijuana smoke may impair cardiovascular function. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2016/07/secondhand-marijuana-smoke-may-impair-cardiovascular-function

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