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It’s Important to Be Honest with Your Doctor About Cannabis Use Before Surgery

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As legalization spreads, we’re learning many new things about the cannabis plant and its consumption that we not have under complete prohibition. One of those things is the fact that when you smoke marijuana, you’re likely to need more of common anesthetics used for sedation during surgery. After a study was published on the subject in May of this year, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are encouraging people to be more open with their doctors about their cannabis use because it could be a matter of safety if you need to undergo surgery. 

“We’re not going to have any judgment — there’s no stigma,” said Dr. David Hepner, an anesthesiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “It’s just important for us to know, because the cannabis could interact with the anesthetic and we need to know how to adjust.”

While research has found that cannabis use in the hours leading up to being sedated is cause for the most complications, you should still be honest about your use, especially if you consume regularly. Since marijuana can raise your heart rate and decrease blood pressure, consumption right before surgery could potentially lead to cardiac problems – even heart attacks – and breathing issues. Though these are “worst case scenario” situations and not common, the potential dangers are certainly there and shouldn’t be ignored. 

The study published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association was conducted in a Colorado hospital and found that cannabis consumers needed more of the most common anesthetics. For example, cannabis users needed on average of 14 percent more fentanyl, 20 percent more midazolam and 220 percent more propofol for endoscopic procedures when compared to non-cannabis users. 

“It has been destigmatized here in Colorado,” said Dr. Andrew Monte, an associate professor of emergency medicine and medical toxicology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and UCHealth. “We’re ahead of the game in terms of our ability to talk to patients about it. We’re also ahead of the game in identifying complications associated with use.”

Researchers admit there is still a lot that needs to be studied here – but that this could explain complications they have seen in the past, that could have been handled differently if they had known the patient consumed cannabis. The moral of the story here is that you should always be honest with your doctor about your cannabis use.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for information and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice.

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