Researchers have found that hospitalized cannabis users with arrhythmia, a heart rhythm disorder, are 4.5 times more likely to die in hospital than those without.
While cannabis is the most commonly used psychoactive substance around the world, there is currently limited research on its safety among those with arrhythmia. The researchers behind the present study thus decided to investigate how arrhythmia and use of the drug influence the length of hospital stays and hospital deaths.
For the study, the researchers used data from the National Inpatient Sample database, a database containing medical information on 97% of the US population. All in all, the study examined 2,457, 544 adult cannabis users who were admitted to hospital between 2016 and 2018. Among them, 187, 825 patients had an arrhythmia, of which atrial fibrillation was the most common.
The researchers noted that patients with arrhythmia tended to be older, with an average age of 50.5 years, as opposed to 38.3 years old for those without. Those with arrhythmia also tended to have more co-existing health conditions.
After controlling for factors including age, sex, race, diabetes, heart failure and obesity, the researchers found that cannabis users with arrhythmia were 4.5 times more likely to die in hospital than those without the condition. They also found that the average length of hospital stay among those with arrhythmia was 5.7 days, as opposed to 5.1 days for those without the condition.
"Our study highlights that heart rhythm disorders may be a warning sign for an increased risk of death in people who use cannabis.” says Dr. Sittinun Thangjui, one of the study’s authors. “More studies are needed to confirm our results. In the meantime, it seems sensible to screen these patients for arrhythmias if they present to hospital so that those with a heart rhythm problem can be closely monitored."