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AHA: Cannabis May Have Adverse Cardiovascular Effects

No indication of cardiovascular benefits found; more research needed to further understand adverse effects

THURSDAY, Aug. 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Cannabis seems not to be associated with cardiovascular benefits but has adverse cardiovascular effects, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association published online Aug. 5 in Circulation.

Robert L. Page II, Pharm.D., from the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Aurora, and colleagues reviewed the use of medicinal and recreational cannabis from a clinical, policy, and public health perspective by assessing its safety and efficacy profile.

The researchers describe the potential and known beneficial effects of cannabis use, which include modulation of the processes of pain, cachexia, nausea/vomiting, and spasticity. No well-documented cardiovascular benefits of cannabis have been reported. Cannabis consumption has been associated with cardiovascular, bronchopulmonary, ocular, psychological, and psychomotor effects; the cardiovascular effects include tachycardia, premature ventricular contractions, atrial fibrillation, and ventricular arrhythmia. One major concern is whether cannabis triggers or potentiates major adverse cardiovascular events, including acute myocardial infarction and arrhythmias and its impact on cardiovascular risk factors. Most available data are short-term, observational, and retrospective; many epidemiologic studies are confounded by factors associated with access to health care and other adverse health behaviors. Several studies have indicated adverse cardiac outcomes, and case reports and observational studies have also indicated cardiovascular adverse effects, including acute myocardial infarction and atrial fibrillation.

“We urgently need carefully designed, prospective short- and long-term studies regarding cannabis use and cardiovascular safety as it becomes increasingly available and more widely used,” Page said in a statement.

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