Cannabis is bad for your HEART: Doctors warn that using the drug can cause heart attacks and strokes
Cannabis is bad for the heart and can cause heart attacks and strokes, doctors have warned.
The American Heart Association (AHA), which has reviewed the available evidence, now recommends avoiding cannabis to protect the heart.
A scientific statement stated that smoking cannabis has some of the same drawbacks as tobacco, which is known to be one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
Research has shown that the recreational drug can have health benefits – but smoking cannabis has been linked to a variety of harmful heart problems.
Chemicals in the drug can cause arrhythmias within an hour of smoking, studies show.
The toxins can change blood pressure and heart rate and cause inflammation, all of which are the underlying culprits of heart disease and stroke.
The AHA warning applied to people who use the drug recreationally, as well as for medicinal purposes.
Cannabis is bad for the heart and can cause heart attacks and strokes, doctors have warned
Research author Professor Robert Page, of the University of Colorado, said the review found that cannabis “the ability to interfere with prescription medications. ‘
He added that studies have also suggested that it can “cause cardiovascular conditions or events, such as heart attacks and strokes.”
Professor Page also warned attitudes to cannabis have changed rapidly, with US states and countries legalizing it for medical or recreational use.
He added, “Healthcare professionals need a better understanding of the health effects of cannabis.”
Professor Page and AHA colleagues examined existing research into the relationship between cannabis and the heart.
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THC AND CBD
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are both from the cannabis plant.
Together they form part of the cannabinoid group of compounds found in hashish, hash oil and most marijuana strains.
THC is the psychoactive compound responsible for the euphoric, ‘high’ feeling often associated with marijuana.
THC interacts with CB1 receptors in the central nervous system and brain, generating euphoria and anxiety.
CBD does not fit well with these receptors, reduces the effects of THC and is not psychoactive.
CBD is thought to help reduce anxiety and inflammation.
Their findings are published in the AHA journal Circulation.
Dr. Rose Marie Robertson, AHA’s deputy chief scientist and medical officer, said, “The AHA recommends that people do not smoke or vaporize any substance, including cannabis products, because of the potential damage to the heart, lungs and blood vessels.”
The statement said that a full understanding of how cannabis use affects the heart and blood vessels is limited by a lack of adequate research.
Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states and Washington, DC, where it is prescribed for pain relief, anxiety and depression.
Washington DC, like 11 other US states, has already legalized recreational cannabis use.
Only people with specific conditions can get cannabis-based medicines containing THC in the UK. However, it is difficult to get a prescription.
The most common chemicals in cannabis are THC, the constituent of the plant that gives a ‘high’, and CBD, which does not cause a ‘high’ or intoxication.
Existing studies have shown that THC can cause cardiac arrhythmias within an hour of smoking cannabis.
These include tachycardia, premature ventricular contractions, atrial fibrillation, and ventricular arrhythmias.
THC also appears to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the ‘flight or fight’ response.
It can result in a higher heart rate, a greater demand for oxygen from the heart, higher blood pressure when lying down and dysfunction within the walls of the blood vessels.
On the other hand, studies on CBD found links with a lowered heart rate, lower blood pressure, increased vasodilation that helps open blood vessels, lower blood pressure and possibly reduce inflammation.
For the same reasons, people have chosen to use CBD products with the aim of reducing anxiety, depression, chronic pain conditions and more.
Inflammation is an underlying culprit of the narrowing of the blood vessels that can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Therefore, CBD can only be helpful, but the AHA has not said this.
Smoking and inhaling cannabis, regardless of THC levels, has been linked to a number of heart problems.
Cardiomyopathy, or dysfunction of the heart muscle, angina or chest pain, heart attacks, arrhythmias, sudden cardiac death and other serious cardiovascular diseases have all been discussed in the scientific literature.
CANNABIS: WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DRAWBACKS?
Cannabis is an illegal class B drug in the UK, meaning possession can lead to five years ‘imprisonment and those who supply the drug up to 14 years’ imprisonment.
However, the drug is still widely used for recreational purposes and can make users feel relaxed and happy.
But smoking – the most common way to consume the drug – can also lead to panic, anxiety, or paranoia.
Scientific studies have shown that the drug can relieve depression, anxiety and stress, but intensive use can worsen long-term depression by decreasing the brain’s ability to release bad memories.
It can also contribute to mental health problems in people who already have them, or increase users’ risk of psychosis or schizophrenia, research shows.
Marijuana can be prescribed for medical use in more than half of the U.S. states, where it is used to combat anxiety, aggression, and sleep problems. Researchers are also investigating whether it can help people with autism, eczema, or psoriasis.
Cannabis oil containing the psychoactive chemical THC, which is illegal in the UK, is said to have cancer-fighting properties and a large number of patients claim to have recovered from the disease by using the drug.
Cannabis-based drugs with THC in them were legalized in the UK in November 2018. However, it is difficult to get a prescription.
Very few people in England are likely to receive a prescription for medicinal cannabis. Currently, it is likely to be prescribed only for children and adults with rare severe epilepsy and adults with vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy.
Studies have shown that cannabis-based drugs can halve the number of seizures children have with a rare type of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome.
Professor Page said, “Many consumers and health care providers do not realize that cannabis smoke contains components similar to tobacco smoke.”
Smoking and inhaling cannabis, regardless of THC levels, has been shown to increase the blood concentrations of carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, five-fold.
And tar, partially burned combustible material, increases tenfold, similar to the effects of inhaling a tobacco cigarette.
Chest pain, heart attacks, arrhythmias and other serious heart conditions are associated with carbon monoxide intoxication, the statement said, whether it be tobacco or cannabis.
The risks go up for everyone with existing heart disease.
Smoking weed has caused heart attacks, a higher risk of stroke and heart failure in people with underlying heart disease, research shows.
The review also found that cannabis has the potential to interfere with prescription medications, which is why the AHA urged doctors to better understand the risks.
Some research suggests that cannabis use, both CBD and THC, may be safe and effective for older populations.
Older adults, although they are least likely to use cannabis, often use it to reduce neuropathic pain, improve quality of life, and reduce the use of prescription medications such as opioids.
And it has been reported that cannabis may have benefits for patients with age-related diseases, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
About two million Americans with heart disease currently use or have used marijuana, according to a recent report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
But concerns about those taking the drug include the potential of how it could interact with other medications, including blood thinners, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and statins.
The debate about marijuana and its purported medicinal properties is widespread. But the AHA applied their statement against cannabis to people who use it for both recreational and medicinal purposes.
It was added, “Cannabis may have therapeutic benefits, but few are cardiovascular in nature.”
Existing studies of marijuana and the heart are short-term, observational and retrospective studies. This means that they can recognize a trend, but cannot say with certainty that there is cause and effect.
There is an “urgent” need for “carefully designed, prospective short- and long-term studies related to cannabis use and cardiovascular safety,” said Professor Page.
This can be challenging, however, as marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which keeps scientists from studying it.
Professor Page said that anyone planning to use marijuana should first discuss potential risks with their health professional.
However, if people choose to use cannabis for any reason, it is essential that they only use legal cannabis products.