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Concerning Study Results Linking Cannabis Use to Increased Risk of Heart Attack

Huntington Heart Center weighs in on cannabis products and their safety for the heart

A recent retrospective study of 30,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 44 has raised alarm bells about the use of cannabis products and an increased risk of heart attack and even stroke. Cannabis products are those that contain the psychoactive component of marijuana – THC. As marijuana has been legalized around the United States, its uses have proliferated. Further, new formulations and strains of these products have made them exponentially more potent than the products that were common just a few decades ago. This has resulted in several potential concerns.

First, we are seeing a trend where THC-containing products may increase the risk of an irregular heartbeat, also known as an arrhythmia. As electrophysiologists, we are acutely aware of the risks of arrhythmias, especially Afib, the most common arrhythmia in the United States and around the world. In fact, Afib carries a fivefold increase in risk of stroke, significantly increased risk of heart attack, and the potential for long term heart failure if left untreated. If cannabis does indeed increase the risk and incidence of cardiac arrhythmias, younger and younger patients may soon be suffering from these conditions.

It is also known that THC-containing products may interfere with cardiovascular medication including anticoagulants, which are used in early-stage treatment of cardiac arrhythmias as well as other cardiovascular disorders. It stands to reason that if these drugs were to be rendered less effective, the incidence of heart attack or stroke would increase.

What can be done?

The best course of action is prevention, and abstaining from cannabis containing products may reduce the risk of serious heart-related issues. However, for anyone that experiences what they believe is an emergency heart issue, they should visit their closest ER or call 9-1-1 immediately. Heart attacks can manifest differently in different people so don’t risk it. Further, get your routine checkup with your primary care physician. This can help detect an arrhythmia at its earliest stages. From there, speak to a qualified electrophysiologist who can help you understand options for correcting this arrhythmia and reducing the risk of serious complications in the future.

To learn more, you can schedule a consultation with one of the primary care physicians at Northport Comprehensive Care and speak to the cardiologists here at the Huntington Heart Center for a complete cardiovascular check-up.