Frequent cannabis use among young adults was associated with an increased risk — albeit low — of a heart attack, researchers found, adding that more data is needed to confirm the results.
Findings published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal drew from an annual CDC-led survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), among 33,173 adults aged 18 to 44, of which 4,610 reported recent cannabis use. Study authors found that recent cannabis users were more likely to have a history of myocardial infarction, or heart attack, at 1.3% (61 of 4,610 cannabis users), compared to people who didn’t use cannabis, at 0.8% (240 of 28,563 nonusers). Participants who reported using cannabis over four times each month, with smoking as the main route (versus vaporization or edibles) were more likely to have a history of a heart attack.
“Increasing cannabis use in an at-risk population could have negative implications for cardiovascular health,” study authors wrote.
Survey participants were asked how many days they consumed cannabis in the prior month, and whether a doctor or nurse ever informed them of a heart attack. The study indicated that males, unmarried respondents, cigarette and e-cigarette users and heavy drinkers were more likely to report recent cannabis use.
Researchers also suggested the results “may be more generalizable to a broader population of young adults” owing to a “complex sampling design, weighting methodology and external validation” of the survey. While more research is needed to define the mechanism between frequent cannabis use and risk of heart attack, authors suggested “a mismatch between myocardial oxygen supply and demand.”
The study had its limitations, including the inability to find which participants started using cannabis before having a heart attack, versus those who picked it up after experiencing a heart attack.
Kayla Rivas is a Health reporter and joined Fox News in April 2020.