November 9, 2023 from Medscape
Recent observational research sheds light on potential cardiovascular risks associated with marijuana use. The studies emphasize associations rather than causation, but the findings raise important concerns.
Study 1: Marijuana Use and Heart Failure Risk
Observational data from the National Institutes of Health-sponsored All of Us research program revealed a 34% increased risk of heart failure in daily marijuana users compared to non-users over a four-year period. Despite limitations, the study’s lead researcher, Yakubu Bene-Alhasan, MD, MPH, warns of negative effects on the cardiovascular system associated with marijuana use.
“Given that this is an observational study, we can’t say that marijuana use causes heart failure,” Bene-Alhasan clarifies, “This study and most studies suggest that marijuana use has detrimental effects, especially in the cardiovascular system.”.
Study 2: Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) and Major Adverse Cardiac and Cerebral Events (MACCEs)
Another study led by Avilash Mondal, MD, and colleagues focused on older tobacco-free patients with cardiovascular risk factors and cannabis use disorder (CUD). The research found a 20% higher risk of in-hospital MACCEs in patients with CUD compared to those without, emphasizing the need for increased vigilance in assessing cannabis use in medical history.
Mondal acknowledges the challenges of conducting randomized trials but emphasizes the responsibility of healthcare providers to inquire about cannabis usage. He stated that “we as providers — physicians, nurse practitioners — should all be more vigilant” when gathering medical history from patients and asking about cannabis usage.
Addressing the Risks of Cannabis UseF
Despite limitations and the absence of causation in the studies, the evidence suggests a potential link between marijuana use and cardiovascular risks. The studies highlight the need for healthcare professionals to stay informed and maintain a nonjudgmental approach when discussing cannabis use with patients.
As Robert L. Page II, PharmD, MSPH, who chairs the writing group for the AHA Scientific Statement on Medical Marijuana, warns, “Because something is natural doesn’t always make it safe…There are risks and we’re starting to see that. As healthcare providers, we need to make sure that patients are aware of that.”.
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