Association between High Cannabis Consumption and Heightened Risk of Cardiovascular Complications Observed in Canadian Research

Association between High Cannabis Consumption and Heightened Risk of Cardiovascular Complications Observed in Canadian Research

A new research report published in the journal Addiction has found that individuals diagnosed with “cannabis use disorder” have a significantly higher chance of experiencing certain heart problems compared to adults without the same diagnosis. The study, conducted using medical data from nearly 60,000 adults in Alberta, Canada, examined the relationship between cannabis use disorder and various cardiovascular issues.

The study defined cannabis use disorder as an individual who is unable to stop using cannabis despite experiencing adverse life events. Diagnostic codes for cannabis use disorder were paired and compared to diagnostic codes for cardiovascular issues such as heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. The study found that Canadian adults with cannabis use disorder had an approximately 60% higher risk of experiencing adverse cardiovascular events compared to those without the disorder.

Importantly, the study also found that otherwise healthy individuals diagnosed with cannabis use disorder appeared to be at greater risk of these cardiovascular events. A “healthy” individual in this context refers to someone who has not been diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health disorder, has not been to the doctor in the last six months, has not been prescribed any medication, and does not suffer from any other medical conditions.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Anees Bahji from the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, emphasized that these findings are observational and do not establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship between heavy cannabis use and heart problems. More research is needed to understand the potential link between cannabis use disorder and cardiovascular events.

While recent studies have provided contradictory data on the association between cannabis use and heart problems, this study adds important insights into patterns within their dataset. It suggests that greater precautions may need to be taken by healthcare professionals when assessing individuals who frequently use cannabis. Screening for cardiovascular disease could become a routine part of medical intake forms for frequent cannabis users.

The study also acknowledged that its results were inconsistent with one of the longest-running cardiovascular studies ever conducted, the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. However, it estimated that anywhere from 27% to 34% of cannabis users suffer from cannabis use disorder. It is worth noting that the data surrounding cannabis use disorder and its impact on health outcomes is still relatively limited.

The exact mechanisms by which cannabis use may induce cardiovascular disease events are unknown. However, it is believed to be through the activation of the endogenous cannabinoid system, which consists of endocannabinoids, their receptors, and complex downstream signaling pathways. Cannabis has been linked to serious cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction, stroke, cardiomyopathies, atherosclerosis, and cardiac arrhythmias.

In conclusion, this study highlights the potential risks associated with cannabis use disorder and its impact on cardiovascular health. While more research is needed to establish a definitive causal relationship, healthcare professionals should be aware of these findings and consider screening individuals who frequently use cannabis for cardiovascular disease. Education about the potential risks of cannabis use and cannabis use disorder is crucial for patients.

Dr. Paul Miller, MD

Dr. Miller is committed to finding new and innovative ways to help his patients manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. He has a particular interest in the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis and is passionate about educating both his colleagues and patients on its safe and effective use. He is also committed to continuing his education and staying up-to-date on the latest advances in neurology and cannabis research.

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