Health

Cannabis Damages the Heart Health – Study Reports

Image: Flickr (James St. John)

Recently, a new medical report by the American Heart Association, which appears in the journal Circulation, shows that the use of cannabis, which is a widely used plant, can be harmful to heart health regardless of some of its proven medical benefits. The findings are important considering that the use of cannabis has risen across the US as well as in other countries around the world.

The cannabis plant,  also commonly referred to as marijuana, comes in many different types, all of which contain tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which is the primary psychoactive compound. People who use marijuana for recreational purposes or to get ‘high’ are able to do so only because of the presence of the compound THC.

Another popularly known compound in cannabis is Cannabinoid or CBD. So far, the majority of the studies on the plant which show some medicinal benefits are focused on CBD. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive and is very different.

However, according to the report from AHA, there is still plenty of room for further investigation as there is still a lot unknown about CBD and cannabis. More specifically, researchers have found it difficult to study cannabis because of its categorization.

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Under the Controlled Substances Act, Cannabis is a part of the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances in the US. This simply means that there are no proven benefits of the plant and it comes with a high risk of abuse with it. The designation also means that fewer studies get approval.

In the report, scientists have urged the Drug Enforcement Administration or the DEA, which overlooks categorization and other matters related to all drugs and substances, to remove cannabis from the list so that it can be easily studied.

Further research on cannabis can help the medical community know more about the multiple effects of the use of cannabis, THC, or CBD may have on different organs and overall health. This is important not only for knowing more about the plant and its effects but also for devising public health policies in the future.

Previous studies have shown that cannabis, particularly CBD, can be helpful in relieving a number of health issues such as anxiety and can also help in improving sleep patterns. However, there are also studies that show quite the opposite.

For instance, the research used in the briefing by AHA focused on the potential adverse effects of using cannabis on the heart including increased risk for atrial fibrillation as well as heart attack and failure.

One research found that there was a six percent higher chance of a heart attack in cannabis users under the age of fifty. Additionally, the prevalence of stroke was also observed to be higher in people who used cannabis and were between the ages of eighteen to forty-four. The percentage and risk worsened with higher use.

The cardiologist at the Ochsner Medical Center in Lousiana, Dr. Chip Lavie, stated that health experts already know that cannabis is associated with poor heart health, vascular effects and an increase in chances of cardiovascular events. However, the different impact of the frequency of use is still not known.

In some people, short-term use can actually be beneficial for a number of health conditions. Therefore, there is a need for further research on the use of cannabis to know more about its advantages and drawbacks both in the short and long term and in different dosages.

About the author

Abeera I. Kazmi

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