Young cannabis users 'more than twice as likely to suffer a heart attack in next 30 days'

By Daniel Smith

Young cannabis users are more than twice as likely to suffer a heart attack in the next 30 days than other people, according to a new study.

Researchers found that people under the age of 45 who reported recently using cannabis were at double the risk - and the link was even stronger in frequent users.

They say their findings add to evidence from earlier studies showing a link between heavy cannabis use and myocardial infarction - the medical term for a heart attack - in people in hospital settings.

The new study examined the relationship that frequency of cannabis use and method of consumption have with the risk of myocardial infarction in younger adults who aren't at high risk of a heart attack because of their age.

The research team analysed figures from a survey of more than 33,000 Americans, aged 18 to 44, of whom 17 per cent reported using cannabis in the previous 30 days.

Heart attack was reported in 1.3 per cent of cannabis users and 0.8 per cent of non-users.

Cannabis users were more likely to be male, smoke cigarettes, vape and be heavy alcohol drinkers, which may have contributed to their risk.

However, those factors, plus other risk factors for myocardial infarction, were taken into account by the Canadian research team.

Dr Karim Ladha, a clinician scientist at Unity Health Toronto, said: "With recent legalisation and decriminalisation, cannabis use is increasing in young adults in North America, and we do not fully know its effects on cardiovascular health.

"We found an association between recent cannabis use and myocardial infarction, which persisted across an array of robust sensitivity analyses.

"Additionally, this association was consistent across different forms of cannabis consumption, including smoking, vaporisation, and other methods such as edibles.

"This suggests that no method of consumption is safer than another in this regard."

Nikhil Mistry, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, said: "As a young adult, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with cannabis use, especially in the current climate where we are exposed to a wealth of misinformation and non–evidence-based health recommendations."

Dr David Mazer, a clinician scientist at Unity Health Toronto, said: "Not only young adults, but physicians and other clinicians need to be aware of this potentially important relationship.

"Cannabis use should be considered in cardiovascular risk assessment. When making decisions about cannabis consumption, patients and physicians should consider its associated benefits and risks, in the context of their own health risk factors and behaviours."

Dr Ladha added: "The large sample size, generalisability and detailed data on cannabis consumption of this cross-sectional study provide unique insight into this growing public health concern.

"Further studies and more data are needed to confirm these findings and elucidate the mechanisms contributing to cannabis-associated cardiovascular outcomes."

The findings were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

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