Research presented in a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that 2.3% of reported cannabis users have some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half the U.S. population is suffering from some form of cardiovascular health issues. Heart disease, a type of cardiovascular disease, caused 23.4% of all deaths in the country in 2015.
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The study also explored possible outcomes for patients who use marijuana alongside the drugs typically prescribed to those with poor cardiovascular health, specifically exploring how cannabis chemicals could affect the heart on a molecular level.
Although that 2.3% of cannabis users may appear insignificant, considering roughly half the population suffers from some form of cardiovascular health issues, researchers believe that they may have identified that cannabis could adversely affect cardiovascular health.
Researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to estimate the number of cannabis users suffering from CVD, finding that 2 million of the 89.6 million adults in the United States that report using marijuana also have CVD, equating to 2.3% of reported users.
Dr. Ersilla M. DeFilippis, a cardiology fellow at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and lead author on this study, says, “Marijuana use, both recreational and medical, is increasing nationally, yet many of its cardiovascular effects remain poorly understood. In our NHANES query, we estimated that 2 million adults with marijuana use had CVD in 2015–2016. Since that time, additional states have passed legislature related to marijuana, so its use may have increased even further.”
Dr. DeFilippis explains that many patients suffering from cardiovascular disease are on medication that could react in unpredictable ways to marijuana. However, due to lack of substantial research, those in the medical field do not feel that they have the scientific evidence to definitively give their patients guidance on whether or not they can use cannabis safely while utilizing other medications.
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“Our current approach is that patients who are at high risk of cardiovascular events should be counseled to avoid or at least minimize marijuana use and that rigorous scientific research should be conducted to further inform recommendations for patient care," states Dr. Muthiah Vaduganathan, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.
Sources: Medical News Today