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Research Summary

Are Myocardial Infarction Survivors Who Smoke Marijuana at Higher Risk of Death?

Although a previous study demonstrated an increased risk of myocardial infarction (MI) within 1hour of smoking marijuana compared with periods of nonuse, the net impact of marijuana use on mortality has not been established. Researchers studied 1913 adults hospitalized for MI between 1989 to 1994 to determine whether marijuana smoking within 1 year of MI was associated with increased risk of mortality.

  • Of 1913 MI patients followed for a mean of 3.8 years, 317 died.
  • Of 52 subjects who used marijuana in the year following MI, 7 died during follow-up.
  • In comparisons to non-users, the hazard ratios in subjects using marijuana less than weekly and weekly or more were 2.5 and 4.2 respectively.
  • Additional analyses controlling for concurrent use of cocaine, tobacco, and alcohol found similar effects.


Marijuana use before MI is associated with increased risk of mortality after MI. Determining whether marijuana use directly increases mortality or is a marker of another unmeasured cause awaits further study.

Alexander Y. Walley, MD, MSc


Mukamal KJ, Maclure M, Muller JE, et al. An exploratory prospective study of marijuana use and mortality following acute myocardial infarction. Am Heart J. 2008;155(3):465–470.