Nav: Home

Research suggests potential link between marijuana and heart risks

January 20, 2020

As more states legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use and use increases nationwide, cardiologists should advise patients about the potential risks, including effects of marijuana with some commonly prescribed cardiovascular medications, according to a research review published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The authors estimate that more than 2 million cardiovascular disease patients are currently using marijuana or have used marijuana previously. This includes recreational use and approved medical uses, such as human immunodeficiency virus-related weight loss, treatment of seizure disorders, or chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting.

"Some observational studies have suggested an association between marijuana and a range of cardiovascular risks," said lead author Muthiah Vaduganathan, MD, MPH, of Brigham and Women's Hospital's Heart and Vascular Center in Boston. "We also know that marijuana is becoming increasingly potent. Our review suggests that smoking marijuana carries many of the same cardiovascular health hazards as smoking tobacco. While the level of evidence is modest, there's enough data for us to advise caution in using marijuana for our highest-risk patients, including those who present with a heart attack or new arrhythmia, or who have been hospitalized with heart failure."

Certain cardiovascular medications, including statins and blood thinners, can be affected by marijuana use, the review found. For example, statin levels can increase in the blood when used together with marijuana because both are metabolized through a network of liver enzymes called the cytochrome P450 system. Levels of blood thinners such as warfarin also can be expected to increase when used together with marijuana.

"The review provides detailed tables of many drugs administered for various cardiovascular conditions, with the anticipated effects of marijuana on each one," Vaduganathan said. "These will be helpful to cardiologists and pharmacists reviewing patients' medications and will help them collaboratively decide whether they need to adjust dosing if the patient continues to use marijuana."

The reviewers recommend that cardiologists screen their patients for marijuana use, asking them how often and how much they use. They also should ask about how they use marijuana.

"Vaping marijuana is becoming more and more common, and we know vaping marijuana increases the pharmacological effects of the drug," Vaduganathan said.

For patients who wish to continue to use marijuana, or who have other medically indicated reasons for use, the reviewers recommend limiting use as much as possible and for clinicians to inform patients that vaping and certain synthetic forms of cannabinoids are particularly potent and may have greater adverse effects.

In some patients, cardiologists should test for marijuana use by urine toxicology screening, the reviewers recommend. These include patients being considered for heart transplantation or those who present with early-onset heart attacks or heart failure at a young age.

The review also analyzed the current state of evidence linking marijuana use with cardiovascular health and disease.

Data on the exact health effects of marijuana on the cardiovascular system are limited, largely because federal laws that classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug have limited the ability of scientists to conduct high-quality research, Vaduganathan said.

"Now that we have seen marijuana use become more popular than tobacco smoking, we need more rigorous research, including randomized clinical trials, to explore the effects of marijuana on cardiovascular health," he said.
-end-
The American College of Cardiology envisions a world where innovation and knowledge optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes. As the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team, the mission of the College and its 54,000 members is to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health. The ACC bestows credentials upon cardiovascular professionals who meet stringent qualifications and leads in the formation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The College also provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research through its world-renowned JACC Journals, operates national registries to measure and improve care, and offers cardiovascular accreditation to hospitals and institutions. For more, visit acc.org.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology ranks among the top cardiovascular journals in the world for its scientific impact. JACC is the flagship for a family of journals--JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions, JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, JACC: Heart Failure, JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology, JACC: Basic to Translational Science, JACC: Case Reports and JACC: CardioOncology--that prides themselves in publishing the top peer-reviewed research on all aspects of cardiovascular disease. Learn more at JACC.org.

American College of Cardiology

Related Marijuana Articles:

Legal marijuana may be slowing reductions in teen marijuana use, study says
A longitudinal study of more than 230 teens and young adults in Washington state finds that teens may be more likely to use marijuana following legalization - with the proliferation of stores and increasing adult use of the drug -- than they otherwise would have been.
Does using marijuana affect a person's risk of stroke?
The jury's still out on whether the use of marijuana may increase the risk of stroke.
Marijuana use among older adults in US
Cannabis use apparently continues to increase among older adults in the U.S. based on findings reported in this research letter.
Is it hemp or marijuana? New scanner gives instant answer
Hemp is technically legal in Texas, but proving that hemp is not marijuana can be a hurdle, requiring testing in a licensed laboratory.
Recreational marijuana availability in Oregon and use among adolescents
New research from the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation suggests that legalization and greater retail availability of recreational marijuana is positively associated with marijuana use among adolescents.
Marijuana detected in homicide victims nearly doubles
Researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health assessed the time trends in alcohol and marijuana detected in homicide victims and found that the prevalence of marijuana almost doubled, increasing from 22 percent in 2004 to 42 percent in 2016.
Vaping of marijuana on the rise among teens
Findings from the 2019 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey demonstrate the appeal of vaping to teens, as seen in the increased prevalence of marijuana use as well as nicotine vaping.
Use changes after recreational marijuana legalization
How the legalization of recreational marijuana in some states was associated with changes in marijuana use and cannabis use disorder compared to other states from 2008 to 2016 was the focus of this study.
Teen marijuana use may have next-generation effects
A new study by the University of Washington's Social Development Research Group shows how a parent's use of marijuana, past or present, can influence their child's substance use and well-being.
Marijuana use among US adults with, without medical conditions
National survey data was used in this study to examine how common marijuana use was among adults with and without medical conditions.
More Marijuana News and Marijuana Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.