In a new study from the University of California Riverside, researchers found at a time of increasing legalization of marijuana, a growing number of people under 50 diagnosed with cannabis use disorder were later hospitalized for a heart attack.
They found the rising trend from 2007 to 2018 was most pronounced in three groups: ages 18 to 34, men and African Americans.
Although AHA statistics show heart attacks are much less common in people under 50 compared to older adults, the study suggests people who use cannabis should be followed more closely for possible heart problems.
In the study, the team analyzed medical records of 819,354 people from a large public database of hospital stays.
They identified people 18 to 49 who had been hospitalized for a heart attack and whose records showed a previous diagnosis of cannabis use disorder.
That is defined as excessive, chronic use of marijuana with symptoms of dependence, inability to control use and impairment in social functioning.
Marijuana use has been increasing in the United States, particularly among 18- to 25-year-olds, as legalization for medical and recreational use progresses.
But researchers haven’t pinned down whether that has translated into an increase in cannabis use disorder.
The new analysis found that overall, 4.1% of patients hospitalized for heart attacks also had cannabis use disorder, and the proportion nearly tripled from 2.4% in 2007 to 6.7% in 2018.
When researchers broke the data into subgroups, they found the biggest increases during the decade among:
– people 18 to 34, 7.3% in 2007 to 20.2% in 2018
– African Americans, 15.8% in 2007 to 35.2% in 2018
– men, 71.6% in 2007 to 78.1% in 2018
Although previous studies suggested a link between cannabis use and heart attack, this adds to the evidence.
Cannabis users need to realize that just because it’s “natural” does not mean it is safe.
The team says future work needs determine whether or not cannabis is a risk factor for heart disease, particularly in younger adults.
If you care about heart health, please read studies about causes and treatments of heart failure everyone should know and findings of this simple blood test could help reduce heart disease deaths.
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The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s virtual Scientific Sessions conference. One author of the study is Darshi Desai.
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