New Research On Marijuana Raises Concerns for Consumers With Pre-Existing Heart Condition

New Research On Marijuana Raises Concerns for Consumers With Pre-Existing Heart Condition


Marijuana cannot be used to treat all medical conditions. Although consumption of adult-use cannabis is legal in the market today, it poses relatively low health risks to the people. However, it is of the potential impact on people suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

The legal status of marijuana in the U.S has prompted studies on marijuana-related heart cardiovascular episodes, which are observed and self-reported. It usually involves small population participants without using various methods of consumption. All the research studies on risks of marijuana on heart function are based on one way of consumption, inhaling combusted smoke apart from one case involving the use of a 90mg THC lollipop. The available data on marijuana smoking suggests that people with Cardiovascular diseases should be wary of smoking weed. 

An article published by Harvard Medical School reported that patients with pre-existing heart conditions and under some stress complained of experiencing chest pains after smoking marijuana. Patients who smoked weed with high levels of THC were found to have an increased resting heart rate, distended blood vessels, and their heart was pumping harder, especially an hour after smoking. Thus raisin concerns the risks of an impending heart attack. The stress levels can amplify the effects of marijuana on a person. THC is a psychoactive component of cannabis. 

As more states legalize marijuana, transparent consumer education on responsible consumption is being outpaced by increased access to weed. Overdosing on THC and one’s body intolerance to the highly potent anxiety-producing effects may lead to increased levels of stress. 

Many reports from the emergency room visits by marijuana consumers show that cardiovascular stress resulting from induced anxiety may be circumvented by avoiding marijuana or taking controlled doses. Patients with pre-existing heart conditions can still use weed for managing the pain, but they would have to consult with a marijuana-educated physician, who can offer them guidance. 

Last week The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) published an article where researchers from Queen Mary University of London found that regular cannabis consumption and its impact on structural and functional changes to the heart are correlated. 

The British Heart Foundation financed their research. The researcher used MRI cardiac scans of 3,407 patients from a UK Biobank who used marijuana regularly, either daily or weekly and had no history of CVD. The subjects also had an enlarged left ventricle. Of the 3,407 participants, 105 of them has used marijuana regularly in the past, but only 57 have sustained with the habit. 

Among the small sample size of self-reported use, 105, the researchers found that the 57 who sustained the consumption habits had larger ventricles and early symptoms of impaired heart function. The participants who had not used weed within the past five years, the study authors found that their heart size and functionality resembled those who have never engaged in smoking pot. No other changes were noted in the heart chambers. 

The study lead author was a Senior Clinical Lecturer at Queen Mary, Dr. Mohammed Khanji. During the press release, Khanji said that although their findings are not conclusive, their study took place in an environment where decriminalization and legalization of adult-use marijuana apparent in many countries. He further noted that more research is needed to identify the long-term effects of regular use of cannabis on the heart and blood vessels. The research finding would be helpful to the health professional and policymakers when providing advice to the patients and the general public.

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