Cannabis use in patients with cardiovascular risk

Organisation: Position: Deadline Date: Location:

A review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology states that more than two million people with an underlying heart condition use cannabis or have used it in the past year, writes Brendan Bures for Chicago Tribune. No known link exists between heart disease and cannabis use, but risks do exist, researchers warn.

The reviewers are from Columbia University Irving Medical Centre, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Arizona, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart & Vascular Center, and Harvard Medical School.

Consuming cannabis elicits a calming, sedative sensation throughout a user’s body. The intensity of the experience differs depending on the delivery method used (vaping, edibles, tinctures), what kind of marijuana used (sativa- or indica-dominant), and how much is consumed.

Those variables also factor into how cannabis affects your heart, researchers found, according to the 6 July article produced by the Tribune Content Agency and published in the Chicago Tribune.

The relationship between smoking cigarettes and cardiovascular disease is well known. But cannabis smoking [as opposed to other delivery methods] could also result in faster heartbeats and rising blood pressures. A 2017 study found that smoking cannabis raises the risk of heart attack in the first hour following consumption.

Cannabis use also increases risk of atrial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disorder. This is why researchers caution not to assume smoking cannabis is any better for you than tobacco.

“When people smoke tobacco, they take frequent, small puffs,” said Dr Muthiah Vaduganathan, one of the study’s co-authors. “In contrast, smoking marijuana usually involves large puffs with longer breath holds.”

Smoking cannabis presents additional complications to heart patients, as cannabinoids can interact with medications in unexpected ways. Researchers found blood thinner levels were raised due to cannabis use and could cause excessive bleeding in patients. Statins were alternatively more effective and caused undesired fluctuations in blood pressure.

Vaduganathan stressed the importance of people talking to their doctor about their cannabis use. “In my clinic, I ask people if they use marijuana, and most are quite open to these discussions,” he said.

You should know, however, that no research associates using cannabis with long-term damage to your heart health. But the short-term complications are why it’s worth having a frank “cannabis conversation” with your doctor if you’re a heart patient.


Marijuana Use in Patients With Cardiovascular Disease: JACC Review Topic of the Week




Ersilia M DeFilippis, Naykaranbir S Bajaj, Amitoj Singh, Rhynn Malloy, Michael M Givertz, Ron Blankenstein, Deepak L Bhatt and Muthiah Vaduganathan


Marijuana use is increasing as more states are legalising cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes. National survey data estimate that >2 million Americans with established cardiovascular diseases currently use or have used marijuana in its variety of forms, including inhalation and vaping.

Cannabinoid receptors are distributed in multiple tissue beds and cells, including platelets, adipose tissue, and myocytes. Observational data suggest associations between marijuana and a broad range of adverse cardiovascular risks.

Marijuana is becoming increasingly potent, and smoking marijuana carries many of the same cardiovascular health hazards as smoking tobacco. Synthetic cannabinoids have been linked to more sustained and deleterious pharmacodynamic effects.

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, thus limiting its rigorous study for cardiovascular health effects. This review summarises cardiovascular considerations related to marijuana use, pharmacological interactions, and future steps to provide clearer guidance regarding its cardiovascular safety.

Screening for marijuana use is encouraged, especially in young patients presenting with cardiovascular disease.


Why marijuana could be risky for your heart


Marijuana Use in Patients With Cardiovascular Disease: JACC Review Topic of the Week


Receive Medical Brief's free weekly e-newsletter

Related Posts

Thank you for subscribing to MedicalBrief

MedicalBrief is Africa’s premier medical news and research weekly newsletter. MedicalBrief is published every Thursday and delivered free of charge by email to over 33 000 health professionals.

Please consider completing the form below. The information you supply is optional and will only be used to compile a demographic profile of our subscribers. Your personal details will never be shared with a third party.

Thank you for taking the time to complete the form.