Cannabis and heart attack: What you need to know

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In a recent study published in Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers from Unity Health Toronto found adults younger than 45 years who used cannabis were 200% more likely to have had a heart attack, and this link was stronger in frequent users.

In the study, the team looked at data from over 33,000 adults aged 18–44 years, of whom 17% reported using cannabis in the past 30 days.

Heart attack was reported in 1.3% (61 of 4610) cannabis users and 0.8% (240 of 28,563) nonusers.

The team found cannabis users were more likely to be male, smoke cigarettes, use e-cigarettes (vape) and be heavy alcohol drinkers, which may have contributed to their risk.

The team says with recent legalization and decriminalization, cannabis use is increasing in young adults in North America, and researchers do not fully know its effects on heart health.

As a young adult, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with cannabis use.

In another study presented at the AHA virtual Scientific Sessions conference, UC 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.

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 current 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; and men, 71.6% in 2007 to 78.1% in 2018.

Previous studies suggested a link between cannabis use and heart attack, and this adds to the evidence.

The team says cannabis users need to realize that just because it’s “natural” does not mean it is safe.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about novel causes of irregular heart rhythm, and statin drugs that could do double duty on heart disease and cancer.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about two ways to quickly restore normal heart rhythm, and results showing one cup of nitrate-rich vegetables per day may prevent heart disease.

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