Researchers from the Queen Mary University of London used MRI images of more than 3,000 people, 152 of them former or current cannabis users, to identify a potential link between the use of cannabis and structural changes in the heart. Researchers found that early signs of decreased heart function, and the enlargement of the left ventricle, were linked to cannabis use and present in cannabis users.
Due to the growing popularity of cannabis use all over the world, researchers and medical professionals are exploring the relationship between cannabis and how the human body functions, this research explicitly exploring cannabis and cardiac function through the study of MRI images from a little over 3400 UK Biobank participants.
Out of the total number of participants, 47 were current users of the drug, and 105 were not currently using but had used the drug regularly in the past five years, using daily or weekly for an extended period of time. The study found that most current cannabis users were younger males who were also tobacco smokers. The analysis adjusted for factors like gender, age, body mass index, diabetes, alcohol, and tobacco use.
Ultimately the research found that regular cannabis use is connected to a larger indexed left ventricular end-diastolic, larger end-systolic volumes, and impaired myocardial global circumferential strain when compared to those who do not use cannabis regularly.
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"Our findings are not conclusive, but the research took place against a backdrop of decriminalization and legalization of recreational cannabis use in many countries," shared Mohammed Khanji, MBBCh, Ph.D., a senior clinical lecturer at the Queen Mary University of London. "We urgently need systematic research to identify the long-term implications of regular consumption of cannabis on the heart and blood vessels."
The study can be found in the Journal, JACC Cardiovascular Imaging.