Marijuana Use Linked To Risk Of Cardiovascular Illness And Death
April 24, 2014

Marijuana Use Linked To Risk Of Cardiovascular Illness And Death

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

Marijuana has long been touted a medicinal godsend for many cancer patients and pain sufferers. But a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association claims that marijuana use may result in cardiovascular-related conditions among young and middle-aged adults.

French researchers, led by Émilie Jouanjus, PharmD, PhD, of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse in Toulouse, France, found the conditions in those who reported to the French Addictovigilance Network (FAN) between 2006 and 2010. In all, 35 cases were identified of cardiovascular and vascular conditions related to the heart, brain and limbs.

“In prior research, we identified several remarkable cases of cardiovascular complications as the reasons for hospital admission of young marijuana users,” Jouanjus said in a statement. “This unexpected finding deserved to be further analyzed, especially given that the medicinal use of marijuana has become more prevalent and some governments are legalizing its use.”

The researchers found that most patients reporting to the network were male with an average age of 34.3 years. Nearly two percent (35) of the 1,979 marijuana-related complications were cardiovascular complications. Of those cases, 22 were related to the heart, 20 of which were heart attacks; 10 were peripheral with diseases related to the limbs; and three were related to the brain’s arteries. The percentage of reported cases more than tripled from 2006 to 2010, and nine of the patients died.

Although the number of reported marijuana-related cases was significantly small, researchers believe that marijuana use and any resulting health complications are likely under-reported. With 1.2 million regular cannabis users in France, and given that less than 2,000 medical-related marijuana cases were reported over the five-year period, the researchers say there is potentially a large number of complications that are not being detected by the FAN.

“The general public thinks marijuana is harmless, but information revealing the potential health dangers of marijuana use needs to be disseminated to the public, policymakers and healthcare providers,” Jouanjus said.

The harmful effects of marijuana are likely to be amplified in people who already have pre-existing cardiovascular weaknesses, the authors report.

“There is now compelling evidence on the growing risk of marijuana-associated adverse cardiovascular effects, especially in young people,” Jouanjus said. “It is therefore important that doctors, including cardiologists, be aware of this, and consider marijuana use as one of the potential causes in patients with cardiovascular disorders.”

Jouanjus maintained that surveillance of marijuana-related cardiovascular reports should continue, adding that more research is needed to look at how marijuana use might trigger cardiovascular events.

The study was funded by the French InterMinisterial mission for the fight against drugs and addiction, MILDT and the French drug agency ANSM.