Two studies presented Monday at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia identify a correlation between marijuana use and heart issues, per CNN.
The first study, which focused on adults age 65 or older with cannabis use disorder, determined that abusing marijuana is a risk factor for a number of cardiovascular conditions.
“Researchers found the 8,535 adults who abused weed had a 20% higher risk of having a major heart or brain event while hospitalized, compared to over 10 million older hospitalized adults who did not use marijuana,” CNN reported.
Regardless of marijuana use or abuse, it’s common for older adults to develop chronic conditions. But the new study highlighted how marijuana can worsen the impacts of common issues.
Health care management expert Robert Page II told CNN, “What’s interesting is if you look at individuals who’ve used cannabis daily over very long periods of time, it’s actually been associated with an increase in blood pressure which is also a risk factor for numerous other cardiovascular conditions,” he said.
The new research is significant, because, from 2015 to 2018, marijuana use among adults age 65 and older rose 75%, according to a JAMA study. The study noted that the groups with the highest increase of marijuana use were women, college graduates, married individuals and those with annual incomes of $20,000 to $49,000 and over $75,000.
The second study presented Monday investigated whether there is a correlation between marijuana use and an increased risk of heart failure by comparing people who don’t use marijuana with daily marijuana users. This research observed 160,000 adults with a median age of 54 over a four-year period.
The Mayo Clinic describes heart failure as a condition in which the heart fails to pump blood as well as it should. When it occurs, “blood often backs up and fluid can build up in the lungs, causing shortness of breath.”
The researchers behind the second study concluded that daily marijuana users’ risk of developing heart failure is 34% higher than those who never use marijuana, CNN reported.
Marijuana health risks go beyond a potential increased risk of heart failure. The American College of Cardiology found earlier this year in February that daily marijuana users were “about one-third more likely to develop coronary artery disease (CAD) compared with people who have never used the drug.”
Dr. Ishan Paranjpe, resident physician at Stanford University and lead author of the study, said, “We found that cannabis use is linked to CAD, and there seems to be a dose-response relationship in that more frequent cannabis use is associated with a higher risk of CAD.”
He continued, “In terms of the public health message, it shows that there are probably certain harms of cannabis use that weren’t recognized before, and people should take that into account.”
Dr. Yakubu Bene-Alhasan, the lead author of the new heart failure study, explained to CNN that building evidence of cannabis’ cardiovascular risk should encourage other researchers to conduct similar studies.
He said, “Our results should encourage more researchers to study the use of marijuana to better understand its health implications, especially on cardiovascular risk.”