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Cannabis Use Associated with Complications Following Heart Procedures

Two studies to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020 virtual event, which started today, November 13, and will continue through Tuesday, found that cannabis appears to be associated with cardiovascular complications following heart procedures.

One study, which was performed by a team of Michigan researchers, found that patients who smoked marijuana (3,970 out of 113,477) were at an increased risk of stroke (0.11% compared to 0.29%) and bleeding (3.37% compared to 5.16%) following percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedures (angioplasty, stent placement, etc.). Lead author and internal medicine resident physician at the University of Michigan Sang Gune Yoo, M.D., noted that the overall rate of stroke was very low for both groups and that such findings should be taken with caution. The study also found that cannabis smokers had a decreased risk of acute kidney injury compared to those who did not smoke—2.20% and 2.88%, respectively. The study found no disparities in risk of death or need for blood transfusions following PCI procedures.

The second study examined National Inpatient Sample to compare the rates of hospital admissions for patients with a history of PCI, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), or heart attack in cannabis users and non-users. The database monitors approximately 8 million hospital stays annually. What they found was that 67% of heart attack survivors who used cannabis had subsequent heart attacks, but only 41% of survivors who identified as non-users had subsequent heart attacks. Additionally, cannabis users tended to be younger than non-users (median age 53 compared to 72) and were more often male (76.5% vs. 61.5%) and African American (34.3% vs. 10.0%). Surprisingly, cannabis users also showed lower signs of comorbidities often associated with poor cardiovascular disease, including hypertension (71.7% vs. 74.8%), diabetes, uncomplicated (23.6% vs. 32.9%), and dyslipidemia (51.3% vs. 57.8%). Cannabis users showed lower inpatient mortality, however (0.8% vs. 2.5%).

Both studies suggest that there needs to be more research into the effects of cannabis on cardiovascular health, especially among those who have a history of heart problems.

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