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Cannabis Users Have Four Times Higher Risk of Peripheral Artery Disease

May 22, 2023 from Medscape


The findings of a study involving more than 600,000 marijuana users suggest that marijuana users have a nearly four times higher risk of developing peripheral artery disease than nonusers, but there was no increased risk of death from myocardial infarction or other cardiac causes or the need for revascularization.


The study period, from 2016 to 2019, precedes the legalization of recreational marijuana in a number of jurisdictions, and the researchers highlighted that the study population was youthful, with an average age of 37.4 years.


However, even among this young sample cohort, marijuana users had a 3.68-fold (P<.001) higher incidence of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) than nonusers. Younger PAD may be associated with worse outcomes later in life, according to the study’s authors.


Hirva Vyas, DO, an internal medicine resident at Hackensack University Medical Centre in New Jersey, presented the findings at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Interventions annual meeting. “Basically, marijuana users were at increased risk of being diagnosed with peripheral artery disease, but there was no increased risk for them requiring any intervention, such as a peripheral vascular intervention, nor were they at increased risk of death from what we found,” she said.


According to ProCon.org, recreational marijuana is legal in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Since the study’s conclusion in 2019, recreational marijuana use has been legalized in 11 states. According to Dr. Vyas, “It’s a data point that we studied at one point in time, only from 2016 to 2019.”


“As we’ve seen over the past 4-5 years, legalization has skyrocketed and recreational use has become more and more favourable not only among younger folks but also older folks,” study coauthor Harsh Jain, MD, a second-year internal medicine resident at Montefiore Medical Centre in New York, said in the interview. Observing how these data change when we examine endpoints from 2019 to 2023 will be quite enlightening.


Dr. Jain noted that these results might not adequately reflect the true cardiovascular hazards of marijuana use, particularly in later life, due to the young age of the study cohort.


“The development of chronic conditions that lead to multiple rehospitalizations, the most important one of which would be the development of heart failure,” Dr. Jain added, “was one of the biggest secondary endpoints that we wanted to study.” However, because many of these patients were extremely young and did not have the diagnosis of heart failure, stratification was challenging, and we were unable to finish that subset analysis.




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