Regular use of cannabis appears to dramatically increase the heart-attack risk of young adults, states a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The peer-reviewed study used survey data on health risks and chronic health conditions from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, zeroing in on cannabis use in people between 18 and 44 years of age.
Myocardial infarction, or heart attack, was “more frequent among recent cannabis users relative to non-users,” the research found, leading to the conclusion that using cannabis more than four times per month raised the risk of heart attack in young adults.
“The magnitude of this association increased among more frequent users of cannabis,” the study added.
Part of this increased risk could be attributable to cannabis products becoming stronger in recent years, CNN points out in a recent report, with new cannabis strains producing “dramatic increases in THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] content.”
The research for the Canadian Medical Association Journal study used data from more than 33,000 people, 4,610 of whom reported recent cannabis use. Young adults regularly using cannabis had almost twice as many heart attacks as people in the same cohort who didn’t.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Karim Ladha of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, told CNN that cannabis ratchets up the heart’s need for oxygen while at the same time restricting the amount it receives.
“What you end up having,” he said, “is this mismatch of oxygen supply and demand which fundamentally leads to heart attacks.”
The study pointed out that cannabis’ impact on human health remains “poorly understood” and called for more research.
— Douglas Perry