According to a new study, young cannabis users are more than twice as likely to have a heart attack than other people in the next 30 days.
The researchers found that people under the age of 45 who recently reported using cannabis were twice as likely – and the association was even stronger among frequent users.
They say their results add to the evidence from previous studies showing a link between heavy cannabis use and myocardial infarction – the medical term for a heart attack – in people in hospital settings.
The new study examined the association between the frequency of cannabis use and the method of use with the risk of heart attack in younger adults who are not at high risk of heart attack due to their age.
The research team analyzed numbers from a survey of more than 33,000 Americans ages 18 to 44, of whom 17 percent said they had used cannabis in the past 30 days.
Heart attacks were reported in 1.3 percent of cannabis users and 0.8 percent of non-users.
Cannabis users were more likely to be male, smoked cigarettes, vaped, and were heavy alcohol drinkers, which may have contributed to their risk.
However, these factors, as well as other risk factors for myocardial infarction, were considered by the Canadian research team.
Dr. Karim Ladha, Clinical Scientist at Unity Health Toronto, said, “With the recent legalization and decriminalization, cannabis use is increasing among young adults in North America, and we do not fully understand its effects on cardiovascular health.
“We found a link between recent cannabis use and myocardial infarction that persisted across a range of robust sensitivity analyzes.
“Also, this association was consistent across different forms of cannabis use, including smoking, vaporizing, and other methods such as edibles.
“This suggests that no method of consumption is safer than another in this regard.”
Nikhil Mistry, a graduate student at the University of Toronto, said, “As a young adult, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with cannabis use, especially in the current climate where we have a wealth of misinformation and evidence-based health advice. “
Dr. David Mazer, Clinical Scientist at Unity Health Toronto, said, “Not only young adults but doctors and other clinicians need to be aware of this potentially important relationship.
“Cannabis use should be considered when assessing cardiovascular risk. When making decisions about cannabis use, patients and clinicians should consider the associated benefits and risks in the context of their own health risk factors and behaviors.”
Dr. Ladha added, “The large sample size, generalizability and detailed cannabis use data of this cross-sectional study provide unique insights into this growing public health problem.
“More studies and more data are needed to confirm these results and to elucidate the mechanisms that contribute to cannabis-associated cardiovascular outcomes.”
The results were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).
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