Marijuana use is associated with heightened risks for many heart diseases while interfering with therapies
Cannabis use is increasing throughout the US as more states legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Alarmingly, a national survey has estimated that over 2 million Americans with known cardiovascular diseases currently use or have used cannabis in some forms, such as inhalation or vaping. Meanwhile, few efforts exist to organize current clinical data and knowledge on the effects of marijuana on cardiovascular risks.
Aware of this gap, a group of physicians from Columbia University Irving Medical Center (New York), University of Alabama (Birmingham), Sarver Heart Center, University of Arizona, (Tucson) and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart (Boston) recently joined force to summarize relevant mechanisms of potential cardiovascular risks associated with cannabis use. They concluded that cannabis use carries many of the same cardiovascular health hazards as smoking tobacco, such as heightened risks for heart attack and more incidents of damage to blood vessels in the brain. In addition, they found evidence that cannabinoids - the main components of cannabis - can interfere with the action of multiple classes of cardiovascular therapies. Given these findings, they recommended screening and testing for use of cannabis in clinical settings, especially in the care of young patients presenting with cardiovascular disease.