The Link Between Cannabis Use and Risk of Heart Attack
New research into cannabis products – anything that contains the compound THC (the component part of marijuana) – has shown that increased use is associated with a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Beyond being surprising, this is a concerning development as cannabis products are further legalized around the country and the world.
The retrospective study looked at about 30,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 44. Of those that consumed cannabis within the prior 30 days, there was an almost doubled risk of heart attack versus those who abstained. Interestingly, the method of consumption – whether smoked, vaped or eaten didn’t seem to make a significant difference.
The Heart House’s Take
As the legalization and consequent increased use of cannabis products has proliferated across the United States, we have understood that it can cause several adverse effects. However, its effects on the cardiovascular system are still relatively poorly understood. This study is a first step in understanding more about the true effects of cannabis, thus allowing for better policy and regulation.
You might ask why this information is only now coming to light? The cannabis use landscape has changed significantly over the past several decades – one could say “this is no longer grandpa’s weed.” In fact, formulations of cannabis containing products are significantly more potent than ever before, and even light use can introduce a significant amount of THC into the system. At these higher levels, we really don’t know much about its effects.
What can be done?
Of course, beyond educating the public, there’s not much we can do right away to limit the use of cannabis-containing products after they have been legalized. However, studies like this impress upon us, and hopefully upon lawmakers, that not all cannabis is the same. Higher concentrations of THC may have a significantly more detrimental effect on patients up to and including the increased risk of heart attack.
Most importantly, taking care of your heart by eating well and exercising appropriately, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and reducing stress are all part of the risk reduction protocols for that everybody, no matter what their age, should follow.
For more information or to schedule a consultation about a cardiovascular concern you may have, we encourage you to contact our office.
Ladha KS, Mistry N, Wijeysundera DN, Clarke H, Verma S, Hare GMT, Mazer CD. Recent cannabis use and myocardial infarction in young adults: a cross-sectional study. CMAJ. 2021 Sep 7;193(35):E1377-E1384. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.202392. PMID: 34493564; PMCID: PMC8443297.