A new study done by researchers with St. Luke’s University Hospital Network is said to suggest that marijuana use could have an adverse impact on the heart muscles of users. The results were presented at the annual scientific conference of the American Heart Association in New Orleans this past weekend.
Researchers used Nationwide Inpatient Sample data from 2003 to 2011 to track hospital admissions and outcomes of 33,343 patients with stress cardiomyopathy, which is a sudden temporary weakening of the heart muscle that prevents it from pumping. Of the 33,000 patients looked at, 210 were marijuana users.
The results seem to suggest that marijuana users have a much higher risk of stress cardiomyopathy. “Despite being younger and with fewer cardiovascular risk factors than non-users, during stress cardiomyopathy, the marijuana users were significantly more likely to go into cardiac arrest (2.4% vs. 0.8%) and to require an implanted defibrillator to detect and correct dangerously abnormal heart rhythms (2.4% vs. 0.6%),” the American Heart Association said of the study.
“Someone who uses marijuana is almost two times more likely to develop stress cardiomyopathy,” said Dr. Amitoj Singh, the lead investigator of the study.
But as is the problem with many studies of this kind, correlation does not equal causation. The study found that marijuana users are more likely to use tobacco and harder drugs, as well as suffer from depression, than those who don’t use marijuana. These factors could contribute to cases of stress cardiomyopathy.
The bottom line is that more research is needed in this area. Despite many studies there is much we still do not know about cannabis and its effects on the human body. True, we know a lot and much of that knowledge has come in the last few decades. But there is still much more to see and more benefits to unlock and harness.
“This is a retrospective study, so we cannot determine causation” between marijuana and weakening heart muscles, Dr. Singh pointed out. “Further research is needed to evaluate this study, especially considering the current increase of recreational marijuana in our country.”
With laws changing across the U.S., the amount and variety of studies on cannabis will only increase. If there are health problems associated with cannabis that we don’t know about, we will eventually learn. But from all we know up to this point, marijuana is one of the healthiest substances known to man and there is no reason to believe it won’t continue to prove to be so.