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HomeHealthDaily Marijuana Use and Its Impact on Heart Health

Daily Marijuana Use and Its Impact on Heart Health

Daily Marijuana Use and Its Impact on Heart Health

Dr. Ishan Paranjpe, a resident physician at Stanford University and lead author of the study, stated, “A growing body of evidence suggests that cannabis is not entirely harmless and may cause cardiovascular disease.” The study, which has not yet been published, will be presented on Sunday at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting.

“Therefore, the decision to use cannabis must be weighed carefully against the possibility of severe heart disease,” said Paranjpe.

Plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart causes coronary artery disease.

CAD, also known as atherosclerosis, is the most prevalent form of heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.

Symptoms of the condition include angina or chest pain, feeling weak, dizzy, nauseous, or difficulty breathing.

The CDC states on its website that for “some people, the first sign of CAD is a heart attack.”

Using less than once per month

The study collected data from All of Us Research Program participants.

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The program, administered by the National Institutes of Health, is intended to collect health information from at least one million people in the United States over time.

At the time of enrollment, participants were asked about their cannabis use.

Using this information, the research team classified respondents into five groups: daily users (4,736), weekly users (2,720), monthly users (2,075), those who used once or twice in the past three months (8,749), and those who never used (39,678 people). A few years later, the researchers compared these categories to the medical records of the participants.

They discovered that daily cannabis users were 34 percent more likely to be diagnosed with coronary artery disease than non-users.

The study found that people who used marijuana once a month or less posed no significant risk.

Even after researchers accounted for other potential coronary heart disease causes, such as age, sex, and major cardiovascular risk factors — high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, obesity, smoking, and alcohol use — the results remained unchanged.

Other studies on the subject have not used Mendelian randomization (MR) to determine risk, as stated in an email by Paranjpe. The MR method measures gene variants known to be associated with a modifiable risk factor to determine the risk factor’s causal effect.

“Although previous research has also linked cannabis and CAD, there are several potential confounders that may explain this association. Our MR analysis suggests that this association may be directly causal,” stated Paranjpe.

Cannabis and the heart

Why does marijuana appear to harm the cardiovascular system? According to the CDC, it increases heart rate and blood pressure immediately after each use.

“Many of the same substances found in tobacco smoke are also present in marijuana smoke; these substances are harmful to the lungs and cardiovascular system,” the agency says.

The American Heart Association warned in 2020 that smoking or vaping any substance, including cannabis, should be avoided due to the risk of harm to the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

Within an hour of smoking marijuana containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), heart rhythm abnormalities, such as tachycardia and atrial fibrillation, can occur, according to studies cited by the AHA. (THC is the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.)

Smoking marijuana has been linked to heart attacks and increases the risk of strokes and heart failure in individuals with underlying heart disease, according to additional research.

Notably, the new study was unable to determine whether different types of cannabis use, such as consuming edibles versus smoking weed, affected a person’s risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD). However, since THC reaches the brain more quickly when smoked, the researchers argue that future research should investigate the effects of various useful methods on the heart.