When Cannabis Goes Bad: Cannabis use possibly linked to heart attacks in young adults
by Marc Wasserman
Credit: Karen Schmidt, medicalxpress.com
New research has found that those with cannabis use disorder under the age of 50 are at higher risk for having a heart. These results were presented this Sunday at the American Heart Association’s virtual conference meeting.
This trend is most pronounced in those ages 18 to 34, men, and African Americans. The researchers reported that people ages 18 to 34 had a 7.3% chance in 2007 and that has now risen to 20.2% in 2018. African Americans went from 15.8% in 2007 to 35.2% in 2018 and men went from 71.6% in 2007 to 78.1% in 2018.
Lead researcher Darshi Desai at the University of California Riverside analyzed medical records with her colleagues of 819,354 people from a large public database. They identified people ages 18 to 49 that were hospitalized for a heart attack, and had a history of frequent cannabis use. As medical and recreational legalization continues, marijuana use in the United States is increasing especially in young adults ages 18 to 25. An additional study was done to research the relationship between heart attacks and chronic cannabis use. 4.1% of patients hospitalized for heart attacks also smoked cannabis regularly, and the proportion tripled from 2.4% in 2007 to 6.7% in 2018.
Robert Paige is a professor at the University of Colorado, he holds a doctorate in pharmacy and chaired the group that prepared an AHA scientific statement published last year on cannabis and cardiovascular health. Paige says that studies remain difficult because the drug is still illegal in some states and on a federal level. He said that a long-term study that follows people over time to determine if cannabis use is definitely linked to heart attacks in young adults is needed to definitely declare them as correlational.
"We need to determine whether or not cannabis is a risk factor for heart disease, particularly in younger adults," Page said. "Because as we know, young adults think that they're invincible, and they're not."