Two new studies by American scientists show that regular use of marijuana may increase the risk of heart failure, stroke or heart attack. Researchers emphasize that how this substance is taken may be important.
The study results are to be officially presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Philadelphia, which will be held on November 11-13. The first of them, conducted under the supervision of Yakubu Bene-Alhasan from Medstar Health (a non-profit organization providing medical services in the state of Maryland and the city of Washington in USA), covered approx. 157 thousand people.
Marijuana and an increased risk of developing heart failure
None of the participants had heart failure at the time of enrollment. Everyone completed a questionnaire about their frequency of using non-physician-prescribed marijuana for medical purposes or off-label use of medically prescribed marijuana for a specific medical problem. The patients’ health status was tracked for almost four years (45 months). The analysis took into account economic and demographic factors, alcohol drinking, smoking and factors affecting the health of the circulatory system and the risk of developing heart failure, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high blood cholesterol levels and obesity. During the study, nearly 3,000 people developed heart failure. Those who used marijuana daily had a 34% reduction. higher risk of developing this condition than in people who do not use it at all. Based on the analysis of the data, researchers also concluded that marijuana use increases the risk of developing heart failure by influencing the development of coronary artery disease. According to the researchers, the weak point of this study is the fact that the analysis did not take into account whether the marijuana was inhaled or taken orally, which may affect its effect on the circulatory system. As Bene-Alhasan commented, previous studies have already indicated a relationship between marijuana use and the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation, and heart failure. “The use of marijuana is not without health risks, and our study provides more data on its association with cardiovascular disease,” he emphasized.
Marijuana is said to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke
In the second study, a team led by Avilash Mondal, a physician at Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia, analyzed data on 28,535 hospitalized patients (from the 2019 National Inpatient Sample database) over the age of 65 who did not smoke tobacco but used marijuana. They had risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and high blood cholesterol levels. It was checked whether they had any cardiovascular event during their hospitalization, including heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrest, and arrhythmia. This information was applied to a control group of 10,680,000 patients hospitalized but not using marijuana. It turned out that people using marijuana had a 20% lower risk of higher risk of heart attack or stroke, compared to peers who did not use marijuana. “Marijuana use has nearly doubled in the U.S. since 2015 and continues to grow among older adults, which is why understanding the potential risk of cardiovascular disease associated with it is so important,” said Avilash Mondal. In his opinion, more research is needed on this relationship.
Connections ‘increasingly visible’
As commented by Robert L. Page II, PhD, pharmacist, who was not involved in the research, recent reports indicate that smoking marijuana increases the concentration of carboxyhemoglobin (a complex of hemoglobin and toxic carbon monoxide) and tar in the blood in a similar way to tobacco smoking. These substances have been linked to a higher risk of heart muscle damage, heart rhythm disturbances, heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular diseases. “Taken together with the results of the latest two studies, the cardiovascular risks associated with the use of marijuana are becoming increasingly apparent and should be taken into account and carefully monitored by health care professionals and the public,” the expert concluded.
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