Two preliminary studies presented at an American Heart Association scientific meeting suggest that cannabis use may increase the risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. The first study focused on older adults with cannabis use disorder and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. It found that these individuals had a higher risk of major heart- or brain-related events while hospitalized compared to non-cannabis users. The second study examined the risk of heart failure among daily cannabis users and found that they had a 34% increased risk compared to non-users.
These findings are significant, as they shed light on the potential negative health effects of cannabis use, particularly among older adults. Previous research has shown an increase in carbon monoxide and tar levels in the blood stream of individuals who inhale cannabis, which can lead to problems such as irregular heart rhythm and heart failure. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active compound in cannabis, can also increase heart rate and blood pressure.
It is important to note that these studies are observational and do not establish a cause-and-effect relationship between cannabis use and cardiovascular events. Other factors, such as lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and other associated behaviors, may contribute to the increased risk. Additionally, the studies did not identify which types of cannabis products were used, and more research is needed to understand the potential differences in risks between smoked or vaped products versus edibles.
Furthermore, the majority of participants in these studies were white, and future research should aim to include a more diverse sample. It is also worth considering that cannabis use is higher among Black individuals compared to other racial and ethnic groups.
In conclusion, while these studies suggest an association between cannabis use and cardiovascular events, more research is needed to fully understand the potential risks and underlying mechanisms. The American Heart Association recommends avoiding smoking or vaping any substances, including cannabis products, due to possible harm to the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.