Marijuana users may be twice as likely to develop temporary heart condition, study says

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Marijuana use may have the same temporary effects on the heart as a breakup or the death of a loved one, according to a study released Sunday.

Active marijuana users may be doubling their risk of stress cardiomyopathy, a sudden temporary weakening of the heart muscle that prevents it from pumping and can mimic a heart attack. Symptoms of the condition, also known as "broken heart syndrome," include acute chest pain, dizziness and shortness of breath.

SEE ALSO: Is it now legal to smoke weed in Arkansas? Medical marijuana is legal in Bible Belt state

While the muscle weakness is usually caused by acute stress or grief, at least two cases have been linked to marijuana use in medical literature, according to the study, which was presented at the annual scientific conference of the American Heart Association in New Orleans.

"There have been many reports of heart attacks, strokes and the two cases of (stress cardiomyopathy) that have been linked to marijuana," said Amitoj Singh, the lead investigator of the study.

The news comes less than a week after four states -- Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and California -- legalized recreational marijuana use, and four others -- Montana, North Dakota, Arkansas and Florida -- legalized its medical use.

Of 33,343 people who were hospitalized with stress cardiomyopathy between 2003 and 2011, less than 1 percent -- 210 people -- were identified as marijuana users. They were generally younger males with fewer cardiovascular risk factors, which can include high cholesterol, diabetes and less high blood pressure. The group who didn't use marijuana had much higher rates of these conditions.

Still, marijuana users were twice as likely to develop stress cardiomyopathy, and had a significantly higher chance of going into cardiac arrest during stress cardiomyopathy. However, they were also more likely to have a history of depression, psychosis, anxiety disorders, alcoholism, use tobacco and abuse multiple substances.

While the link isn't strong enough to imply direct causation, researchers say it is cause for concern and further research on the effects of recreational marijuana use on cardiovascular health.

"If you are using marijuana and develop symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath, you should be evaluated by a healthcare provider to make sure you aren't having stress cardiomyopathy or another heart problem," Singh said in a press release.

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Legal marijuana sales, dispensaries around the US, recreational and medical
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Legal marijuana sales, dispensaries around the US, recreational and medical
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 07: A man leaves Columbia Care, the first medical marijuana dispensary in New York City on January 7, 2016 in New York City. The law allowing medical marijuana was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2014; the law stipulates that the legal marijuana may not be ingested by smoking it. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Corey Young, a founder of courier service CannaRabbit LLC, picks up a delivery of marijuana from a dispensary as part of a wholesale transfer in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Friday, March 27, 2015. CannaRabbit and peers are rushing in as regional truckers and nationwide haulers United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. steer clear of transporting marijuana on concerns over the lack of nationwide clearance of a practice that is still illegal in most states. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 8: Takoma Wellness Center is a family run medical marijuana dispensary in Washington, DC. Employee, David Malpica, sets up the dispensary room before business hours on Sunday, March 8, 2015. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Marijuana sits on a counter after being delivered to a dispensary by the courier service CannaRabbit LLC in Louisville, Colorado, U.S., on Friday, March 27, 2015. CannaRabbit and peers are rushing in as regional truckers and nationwide haulers United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. steer clear of transporting marijuana on concerns over the lack of nationwide clearance of a practice that is still illegal in most states. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA JULY 05, 2014 --- Shoppers lined up at one of many pot vendors stall at cannabis farmers market organized by California Heritage Market at West Coast Collective, a marijuana dispensary in Boyle Heights. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Vendors and growers prepare their displays for card-carrying medical marijuana patients attending Los Angeles' first-ever cannabis farmer's market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary, on the fourth of July, or Independence Day, in Los Angeles, California on July 4, 2014 where organizer's of the 3-day event plan to showcase high quality cannabis from growers and vendors throughout the state. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Containers of the medical marijuana product known as 'Wax' are displayed at Los Angeles' first-ever cannabis farmer's market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary, on the fourth of July, or Independence Day, in Los Angeles, California on July 4, 2014 where organizer's of the 3-day event plan to showcase high quality cannabis from growers and vendors throughout the state. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
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