Understanding how marijuana affects heart health has emerged as a primary focus for cannabis researchers in recent years. The science connecting the two is limited and no known association between cardiovascular disease and cannabis use exists. Possible risks for heart patients exist, however, as cannabis can reduce the potency of medications like statins and blood thinners.
But new clinical data published in the journal Addiction should provide reassurance to middle-age marijuana users. They found no connection between current or cumulative lifetime marijuana use and heart abnormalities in middle age.
An international team of researchers, including those from the United States and Switzerland, used data from an ongoing longitudinal study called CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults). The study has tracked thousands of Americans — divided fairly evenly among gender as well as black and white participants — since 1985 to better understand risk factors and determinants in cardiovascular disease development.
The recent clinical trail gathered 2,585 middle-age subject from the CARDIA group to determine if cannabis affected the results of electrocardiogram (ECG). Controlling for possible factors like race, education, smoking tobacco, alcohol consumption, and exercise, researchers reported using cannabis did not cause higher ECG abnormalities. They did note, without drawing any conclusions, that major ECG abnormalities were less frequent in current marijuana users.
“In a middle-aged US population, lifetime cumulative and occasional current marijuana use were not associated with increases in electrocardiogram abnormalities,” the study’s authors wrote. “This adds to the growing body of evidence that occasional marijuana use and cardiovascular disease events and markers of subclinical atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries] are not associated.”
Researchers had previously used CARDIA data to explore other associations between lifetime marijuana use and other cardiovascular complications. They found cumulative cannabis use was not connected to a hardening of the arteries or other cardiovascular diseases like stroke or heart disease.