Marijuana Use — Hard on the Heart?

Here’s a piece of health news that’s surprising. We all know that marijuana use can be hard on the lungs, and — if used to much — hard on the brain. What we haven’t heard is that regular marijuana use might also be hard on the heart.

It can — says a new study from the American Heart Association — lead to a higher risk of heart failure or a heart attack. The study also points out that it’s most dangerous for older people.

This is also not a study with a 1,000 or 2,000 sample size. The American Heart Association followed 156,999 people for 45 months to come to the conclusion. The close to four year study followed people who were free from heart problems. In filling out the survey about their use, the main question asked was wondering if the participants were “using marijuana when not prescribed for a health condition, or, if prescribed for medical purposes, using it beyond that purpose.”

Here’s what the study found:

  • 34% have an increased risk of developing heart failure compared to those who never use the substance
  • Close to 2% — or 2,958 people — developed heart failure
  • When looking at coronary artery disease, the risk dropped from 34% to 27%\

The study’s lead author is Yakubu Bene-Alhasan. He said the study didn’t say was whether the drug was ingested via smoking or was it eaten.

“Prior research shows links between marijuana use and cardiovascular disease like coronary artery disease, heart failure and atrial fibrillation, which is known to cause heart failure,” he said. “Marijuana use isn’t without its health concerns, and our study provides more data linking its use to cardiovascular conditions.”

He said the study’s results ought to get more researchers to look at pot use and how to better understand the health implications of its use.

“We want to provide the population with high-quality information on marijuana use and to help inform policy decisions at the state level, to educate patients and to guide health care professionals,” he said.

A different study looked deeply at the 2019 national Inpatient Sample. The data from that study had information on adults ages 65 and older who have cardiovascular risk factors. It then focused on those who reported no tobacco use and then divided them into two groups — marijuana users and non-users.

It followed 28,535 the marijuana users and found — when compared to the non-user group — 20% of them have an increased chance of having a “major heart or brain event while hospitalized.”

Close to 14% of the marijuana users “had a major adverse heart and brain event while hospitalized compared to non-cannabis users.”

Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia resident physician, Avilash Mondai talked about that study. He said more data is definitely needed on the heart health side effects of cannabis.

“We must be mindful about major heart and stroke events in older adults with cannabis use disorder,” he said. “The main public message is to be more aware of the increased risks and open the lines of communication so that cannabis use is acknowledged and considered.”

Source link: The Hill —

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