Cannabis could be risk factor for cardiac events

Investigators looked at electrocardiograph changes among cannabis users, tobacco consumers and non-smokers.

The GrowthOp 3 minute read October 7, 2021

“The study proposes cannabis as a potential risk factor for adverse cardiac events as an acute and chronic effect,” study authors write. / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A new study out of India that indicates consuming cannabis is a potential risk factor for adverse cardiac events could prove useful for clinicians treating marijuana-dependent patients.

Researchers looked at the experiences among 50 relatively young male subjects, all between the ages of 18 and 40. Participants were followed according to three groups, namely those who consumed cannabis, used tobacco or were non-smokers, notes the study, a pre-proof copy of which was published online this week in Emerging Trends in Drugs, Addictions and Health.

Even though everyone was 40 or under, cannabis smokers were the youngest of the lot, with an average age of 26 compared to 31 for both tobacco smokers and non-smokers.

Investigators wanted to pinpoint cardiovascular abnormalities in asymptomatic cannabis smokers by comparing their ECGs with those of the tobacco smokers and non-smokers. They recorded ECGs and compared various factors, including age, heart rate and various intervals and durations measured by the device.

“The study proposes cannabis as a potential risk factor for adverse cardiac events as an acute and chronic effect,” study authors write.

“Clinicians could also use our findings to correlate cardiac complaints of a cannabis dependent patient,” they note, pointing out that “ECG could be a quick and affordable modality for investigating such patients.”

Having as much information as possible is key, the study suggests, since cannabis is among the most consumed illicit drugs in India and the long-term effects of smoking the drug “are still not fully known.”

The German data firm ABCD reported in 2019 that Delhi is the third largest cannabis-consuming city among all cities tracked in the report.

Also citing cannabis being one of the most commonly used recreational drugs, a recently published Canadian study notes that findings provide “evidence supporting an association between recent cannabis use and history of myocardial infarction in young adults.” The authors argue that “increasing cannabis use in an at-risk population could have negative implications for cardiovascular health.”

Authors of a U.S. study, published in 2019, notes concerns regarding the use of cannabis and its potential association with cardiovascular (CV) effects.

“The effects of marijuana on the CV system are extremely worrisome and likely need more attention due to the growing legalization of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use across the U.S.,” they write. That being the case, it will become increasingly important for health care professionals to be aware of “potential side effects and toxicities associated with acute and chronic exposure of cannabis.”