Marijuana and the Heart

A history of marijuana use is not associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, according to data published in the journal Cureus.

A team of investigators affiliated with Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine assessed the relationship between marijuana use and the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease in a nationally representative cohort of nearly 57,000 adults. Authors identified no independent relationship between marijuana exposure and the prevalence of cardiovascular disease after adjusting for potential confounders, such as body mass index, tobacco smoking, and alcohol use.

Researchers determined: “After controlling for several confounding variables, we found that there was a decrease in the prevalence of cardiovascular events with marijuana use (Odds Ratio: 0.74).”

They concluded: “Our study found that there is no link to marijuana use and an increase in cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, there may be a link between marijuana use and lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, but the data was not statistically significant when adjusting for confounding variables. This study does, however, implicate the need for future studies with other methods and/or larger sample sizes to provide more insight into this potential association.”

The findings are consistent with several other studies – such as those here, here, and here – concluding that cannabis use is not independently associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disorders. Separate data published last month in the same journal similarly reported that subjects with a history of marijuana use possess no greater elevated risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The results of a systematic literature review of 67 studies published in November in The American Journal of Medicine concluded, “[M]arijuana itself does not appear to be independently associated with excessive cardiovascular risk factors,” although authors did caution that “it can be associated with other unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol use and tobacco smoking that can be detrimental” to cardiovascular health.

Clinical data has previously established that THC administration can influence heart rate and blood pressure, particularly in more naïve subjects. However, subjects typically develop a rapid tolerance to these effects. NORML has previously cautioned that those subjects either predisposed to or at high risk of cardiovascular issues, such as heart attack or stroke, may be at elevated risks from cannabis inhalation.

Full text of the study, “Association between marijuana use and cardiovascular disease in US adults,” appears in the journal Cureus.