Two different research looked at the potential effects of long-term cannabis usage on the heart. According to the first study, there is a 34% increased risk of heart failure with daily cannabis usage. According to the second study, hospital stays involving cannabis use are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks or other cardiac events among older users. Although the results are strong, they are constrained by the fact that the studies did not look at whether participants took edibles or breathed cannabis. The goal of this research, according to the scientists, is to improve the knowledge of cannabis consumers and healthcare professionals so they may better advise their patients.
According to data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), cannabis consumption has grown by about 50% in the last ten years. In a study done in 2022, 44% of respondents said they had used cannabis in the year before, up from 28% in 2012. The fact that cannabis is now legal in some states for both medical and recreational purposes contributes to this. Numerous studies have demonstrated the potential benefits of cannabis use in easing anxiety symptoms, lowering pain thresholds, and treating gastrointestinal ailments. However, some scientists are concerned about the potential negative effects of chronic cannabis use on health.
Researchers closely examined the long-term effects of cannabis use on the heart in two trials. In one study, participants’ cannabis usage is tracked for four years, while data from the 2019 National Inpatient Sample was analyzed in the other study. One of the cannabis studies was directed by Dr. Yakubu Bene-Alhasan, a physician at MedStar Health in Baltimore, and it concentrated on the relationship between cannabis usage and heart failure. In the research abstract, Dr. Bene-Alhasan stated, “With the increasing state-level legalization of marijuana throughout the United States, its use has increased exponentially, especially among the youth.” “However, there are still many unanswered questions about its implications for cardiovascular health.” Data from around 157,000 participants in the All of Us Research Program were used in this study.
For four years, the subjects were monitored by the researchers. None of the subjects had heart failure at the start of the study, and they disclosed how frequently they used cannabis (the researchers didn’t inquire as to whether the subjects inhaled or ingested the drug). While some participants reported taking cannabis for recreational purposes, others were prescribed it. The researchers were curious about the latter group’s cannabis consumption beyond what their doctors had prescribed. About 2% of the patients in the trial went on to suffer heart failure by the end, and daily cannabis users had a 34% increased chance of doing so. “More research on marijuana use is needed to fully understand its health implications, particularly with regard to cardiovascular risk,” the researchers stated in a statement.
Dr. Bene-Alhasan told Medical News Today that while regular cannabis usage had an influence on heart failure, infrequent use did not. Dr. Bene-Alhasan stated, “Daily use was associated with an increased risk of heart failure.” “It was not found that less frequent use was protective or linked to an increased risk of heart failure.” Adults over 65 who use cannabis were the subject of the second investigation. This study was directed by Dr. Avilash Mondal, a physician at Philadelphia’s Nazareth Hospital. According to Dr. Mondal, the use of cannabis has risen in older adults in recent years. Given this, it is imperative to assess the potential effects of cannabis on cardiac disease in this age group.
Dr. Mondal conducted a study to find out if cannabis use affects hospital stays in patients who have a higher risk of cardiac problems. The researchers compared data from cannabis users and non-users after removing tobacco users. Using data from 28,535 cannabis users, the scientists investigated if cannabis users had a higher rate of cardiovascular events during hospital admissions than non-users. The findings were startling: patients who used cannabis had a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke while they were in the hospital.
Nearly 14% of those who reported using cannabis experienced significant adverse cardiac and cerebrovascular events while they were in the hospital, according to the study abstract. Acute myocardial infarctions, arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, and strokes were also more common in cannabis users. The study’s findings, according to Dr. Mondal, highlight the significance of healthcare professionals following up with patients on cannabis use. Major heart and stroke incidents in older persons with cannabis use disorders are something we need to be aware of. To understand the long-term repercussions of cannabis use, further research is now required, according to Dr. Mondal. In addition, Dr. Richard Wright, a board-certified cardiologist at Santa Monica, California’s Providence Saint John’s Health Center, discussed the study with MNT.
Dr. Wright stated, “These provocative findings could be significant in light of the perhaps naïve belief that the drug is safe and the increasing use of cannabis.” One shortcoming of the research, as noted by Dr. Wright, was that it did not assess whether subjects swallowed or breathed cannabis. According to Dr. Wright, “this is a critical issue because any inhaled combustible material contains noxious substances that are known to have potential adverse effects on the heart, lungs, and systemic health.” Additionally, according to Dr. Wright, everyday cannabis users may be doing so to treat chronic pain issues, which increases their risk of heart failure.
The report was also reviewed by Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, medical director of the Structural Heart Program at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California, and board certified interventional cardiologist. According to Dr. Chen, the study supports a growing body of evidence that cannabis use may have detrimental effects on the heart. According to Dr. Chen, “researchers have only recently gathered data associating cannabis use to worsened clinical cardiovascular outcomes.” Three out of ten cannabis users suffer from cannabis use disorder (CUD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
“They are unable to stop using marijuana even though it’s causing health and social problems in their lives,” according to the CDC. Regular cannabis cravings, increasing cannabis consumption to get high, suffering withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit using cannabis, and enduring social problems as a result of cannabis use are some indications of cannabis use disorder.
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