NOV 08, 2022 7:55 AM PST

Study Recommends Revisiting Heart Transplant Criteria Candidacy for Cannabis Users

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

Researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine analyzed pre- and post-operation consideration and clinicians’ attitudes about heart treatments for cannabis users and recommended revising the criteria for transplant candidacy. Cannabis users have been regularly denied access to the high-risk nature of invasive surgeries. Federal illegality has limited scientific research efforts that would provide useful data about heart treatment risks for cannabis dependent patients. The findings reported here are published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure and highlight the potential of safe and effective heart transplants for medical cannabis consumers. The study also explored the relationship between clinicians' attitudes about opioids and cannabis for context.  

The paper contains analysis of over 200 publications and reviews pre- and post-heart transplant considerations related to cannabis use. Determining whether people who use cannabis should be considered transplant candidates has been controversial. According to study author Dr. Onyedika Ilonze, director of the Cardiovascular Institute, “This is a dilemma in a time of increasingly favorable legislation regarding medical and recreational cannabis use. The dilemma is compounded by a rising need for heart transplants.” Revisiting heart transplant criteria may ease some of the pressures facing cardiac specialists and patients. The researchers believe some cardiac doctors may be making treatment decisions based on old data.

There are many instances of heart transplant candidates denied treatment due to medical cannabis use. However, several states have legislation that protect against discrimination against medical cannabis patients. Denied a heart transplant and a pump, but doctors also have implemented strict criteria for heart procedure eligibility. 

The researchers emphasized the need for future research on interactions between cannabis and immunosuppressants and the association between cannabis use and transplant survival. The paper is the starting point for the research team to develop a research program that focuses on transplant survival and creating a standardized evaluation process for selecting transplant candidates. 

Sources: Cardiovascular Institute, Circulation: Heart Failure

 

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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