Daily marijuana users face a greater chance of developing coronary artery disease compared to those who have never used the substance, according to research released Friday from the American College of Cardiology. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Daily marijuana users face a one-third more chance of developing coronary artery disease compared to those who have never used the substance, according to research released Friday from the American College of Cardiology.
The study, which was presented at the organization's annual Scientific Session Together With the World Congress of Cardiology, said previous studies had been mixed on cannabis use and heart disease.
Coronary artery disease, or CAD, is the most common form of heart disease and occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed because of a buildup of cholesterol. The disease often causes chest pain, shortness of breath and fatigue, and it can lead to heart attacks.
"We found that cannabis use is linked to CAD, and there seems to be a dose-response relationship in that more frequent cannabis use is associated with a higher risk of CAD," Ishan Paranjpe, a resident physician at Stanford University, said in a statement.
"In terms of the public health message, it shows that there are probably certain harms of cannabis use that weren't recognized before, and people should take that into account," Paranjpe said.
Researchers used data from the All of Us Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, which includes detailed information about the health and habits of 175,000 people. There, they first pinpointed the relationship between cannabis use frequency and rates of CAD.
Paranipe, the study's lead author, and his team used Mendelian randomization, a genetics-based approach to identify a causal relationship between cannabis use disorder and CAD risk using data from an independent genetics consortium.
Researchers said that cannabis use disorder is are cognized psychiatric disorder involving frequent marijuana use and dependency.
"After adjusting for age, sex and major cardiovascular risk factors, the results indicated that daily cannabis users were 34% more likely to have CAD than those who have never used marijuana." the study said.
"In contrast, monthly cannabis use was not associated with a significant increase in the risk of CAD. The Mendelian randomization analysis suggested that this was due to a causal relationship, finding that people with cannabis use disorder were more likely to develop CAD."
The study also found that in a genetic analysis, this causal relationship was independent of the potential confounding effects of tobacco and alcohol use.
Researchers suggest that cannabis users should inform doctors of their marijuana use when monitoring heart conditions because itcould play an important factor in their treatment.
"Previous studies have suggested that tetrahydrocannabinol, the molecule responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, acts on receptors that are found in the central nervous system and in the heart and blood vessels," the study said.
"This interaction between THC and blood vessels may provide a pathway for cannabis to promote inflammation and the buildup of plaque, ultimately leading to CAD. The same effects would not necessarily be expected with the use of cannabidiol (CBD), another active ingredient in cannabis and hemp that is commonly extracted for products that do not contain THC."