New study finds association between pot use and weakening heart muscles.
On the heels of last week’s election where an additional five states voted to legalize recreational marijuana use, a new study has found an association between pot use and a weakening of the muscles in the heart, according to cnn.com.
A group of researchers from St. Luke’s University Hospital Network took a look at patients with a condition called stress cardiomyopathy, defined as s sudden temporary weakening of the heart muscle that can prevent the organ from pumping. The condition presents itself to many as similar to a heart attack, with symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness.
The research team analyzed data on over 33,000 patients diagnosed with stress cardiomyopathy, using data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample data, covering the period from 2003 through 2011. The data included both men and women, and were divided into groups of marijuana users and non-users for the analysis.
Typically, the marijuana users tended to be younger and more often males, but still the group, with fewer risk factors such as stress, hypertension, and diabetes, had “high cardiac risk,” according to Dr. Amitoj Singh, the lead investigator of the study.
Additionally, the marijuana user group had more severe cardiac problems. The American Heart Association (AHA) said in a news release concerning the study, “Despite being younger and with fewer cardiovascular risk factors than non-users, during stress cardiomyopathy, the marijuana users were significantly more likely to go into cardiac arrest (2.4% vs. 0.8%) and to require an implanted defibrillator to detect and correct dangerously abnormal heart rhythms (2.4% vs. 0.6%).”
Upon further investigation and creating a model excluding other factors that cause stress cardiomyopathy, Dr. Singh said, “Someone who uses marijuana is almost two times more likely to develop stress cardiomyopathy.”
But, continued the report, marijuana users were also more likely to use other illicit substances and tobacco, and suffer from depression, than those who did not use pot.
Singh acknowledged that medical use of marijuana has a number of benefits, but he hopes his research can call attention to potential harms of the drug.
“Further research is needed to evaluate this study, especially considering the current increase of recreational marijuana in our country,” he continued.
The findings from the study were presented at the annual scientific conference of the AHA in New Orleans.