A new study has revealed that cannabis is just as damaging to the heart as smoking cigarettes.
In regular users, the drug was found to increase blood pressure and heart rate significantly in a similar way that heavy smoking does, according to the results of one study.
In the trial, scientists in Canada – where recreational use is legal – gave 21 otherwise healthy volunteers who smoked cannabis frequently a ‘vape’ containing the drug.
A single session of inhaling it was enough to alter the part of nervous system responsible for blood pressure and pulse, according to scans.
The changes could be enough to increase the risk of a heart attack in less healthy patients, they warned.
New Jersey-based cardiologist Dr Abbas Alshami, who has been involved in the research, said: “When the tobacco industry first began, we didn’t know the damage smoking caused.
“It was only once it was in widespread use that we started seeing the health consequences, and acted to try to limit it. Unfortunately, millions of people died avoidable deaths before that happened.
“I feel like we are going through the same thing with cannabis now. We’re alarmed by what we’re seeing, and would like to see much tougher restrictions reimposed. Many people here [in the US] have no idea the cannabis is harmful but, clearly, it is.”