Regular Cannabis Use Increases Heart Risks For Young People

New research has been presented this week at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, arguing that younger cannabis users may be at a higher risk for heart issues later in life.  A related study suggests that they may also be at higher risk for stroke. It is important to note that the study specifically commented on younger users who have been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder.  

The first research indicates that young persons diagnosed with cannabis use disorder had a greater risk for hospitalization from arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) at a rate of 47 to 52 percent.  The nature of this condition, of course, can be uncomfortable, as the heart beating too fast or slow is quite disconcerting. However, chronic arrhythmia can be deadly, leading to heart failure or even stroke. 

Specifically, the data suggested that nearly 3 percent of patients hospitalized for arrhythmia were also regular cannabis users. This population of patients also tended to be younger (age 15 to 24) and male and black.  When adjusting for other factors, the hospitalization figures jumped to 1.28 times the risk for those between the ages of 15 and 24; and 1.52 times the risk for those between the ages of 25 and 34. 

This brings us to the second study which argues that young people who use cannabis more than 10 days a month were at a 250 percent higher risk for stroke when compared against people who do not smoke marijuana at all.  For frequent cannabis smokers who also smoke tobacco, the risk increased to 300 percent compared to those who abstain from smoking at all. 

Study author Dr. Rikinkumar S. Patel explains, “The effects of using cannabis are seen within 15 minutes and last for around three hours.  At lower doses, it is linked to a rapid heartbeat. At higher doses, it is linked to a too-slow heartbeat.