According to new research, adults younger than 45 years who smoke cannabis regularly are at an increased risk of a heart attack.
The legalization of cannabis has led to an increase in consumption across the world. Especially, among young adults aged 18 to 44-year-old. However, its effects on cardiovascular health remain unclear. Therefore, researchers in Canada conducted a cross-sectional study to investigate the link between regular cannabis use and the risk of a heart attack in young adults.
The team analyzed data from 33,173 adults aged 18-44 years. The American Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys of 2017 and 2018 provided the researchers with information on the participants’ cannabis use and history of myocardial infarction (MI). They further looked at the frequency of use; more than 1 time per week being labelled as more frequent use. Moreover, they also looked at the mode of consumption: smoking, vaporization, or edibles.
The results of the study are available in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Mechanism Behind the Association Remains Unclear
Among the 33,173 study participants, 17% used cannabis recently; defined as using cannabis 1 or more time in the 30 days prior to the survey. Out of these, more than 70% reported frequent use, that is more than once per week. The primary method of consumption among the participants was smoking. Moreover, despite a warning by the American Heart Association, 11% of the participants reported vaporizing cannabis products.
According to the results, frequent cannabis users had 2.3 times higher risk of a heart attack. Recent cannabis use caused an increased odds of MIs in adults aged 14-44 years. Additionally, the association persisted across different forms of cannabis consumption. Thus, suggesting that no method of consumption is safe when it comes to cardiovascular health. Dr. David Mazer, a researcher at Unity Health Toronto, believes that both clinicians and young adults should be made aware of the association between cannabis use and cardiovascular health.
Although the study did find a statistical association between cannabis use and myocardial infarctions, it did not establish a causal link between the two. Nor did it explain the mechanism behind the association. Therefore, the researchers call for further studies on ‘cannabis-associated cardiovascular outcomes.’
In the past, cannabis use has also been linked to an increase in cases of schizophrenia.
Ladha, Karim S., et al. “Recent Cannabis Use and Myocardial Infarction in Young Adults: A Cross-Sectional Study.” Canadian Medical Association Journal, vol. 193, no. 35, 2021, doi:10.1503/cmaj.202392.