Study: Marijuana Use Not Associated With Heart Disease

Consuming cannabis is not associated with an elevated risk of coronary artery disease (heart disease) in young to middle age adults. This is based on a new study published in the journal PLOS One, and titled “Marijuana use and coronary artery disease in young adults”.
Cannabis

For the study, researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of Texas assessed the relationship between CAD and self-reported cannabis use in 1,420 subjects. As reported by NORML, participants in the study were all between the ages of 18 and 50, had experienced chest pain, and underwent a coronary CT angiography.

Researchers found that subjects with a history of cannabis use were less likely to show evidence of CAD as compared to subjects with no cannabis exposure. “Marijuana using subjects also tended to be younger and were less likely to suffer from either hypertension or diabetes.”

“The results demonstrate a relatively low frequency of CAD in a younger, marijuana-using patient subgroup,” authors concluded,

As noted by NORML, their findings are similar to those of a longitudinal trial which found, “Neither cumulative lifetime nor recent use of marijuana is associated with the incidence of CVD (cardiovascular disease) in middle age.”

The full abstract of the study can be found below:

Background
Marijuana is the most popular drug of abuse in the United States. The association between its use and coronary artery disease has not yet been fully elucidated. This study aims to determine the frequency of coronary artery disease among young to middle aged adults presenting with chest pain who currently use marijuana as compared to nonusers.

Methods
In this retrospective study, 1,420 patients with chest pain or angina equivalent were studied. Only men between 18 and 40 years and women between 18 and 50 years of age without history of cardiac disease were included. All patients were queried about current or prior cannabis use and underwent coronary CT angiography. Each coronary artery on coronary CT angiography was assessed based on the CAD-RADS reporting system.

Results
A total of 146 (10.3%) out of 1,420 patients with chest pain were identified as marijuana users. Only 6.8% of the 146 marijuana users had evidence of coronary artery disease on coronary CT angiography. In comparison, the rate was 15.0% among the 1,274 marijuana nonusers (p = 0.008). After accounting for other cardiac risk factors in a multivariate analysis, the negative association between marijuana use and coronary artery disease on coronary CT angiography diminished (p = 0.12, 95% CI 0.299–1.15). A majority of marijuana users were younger than nonusers and had a lower frequency of hypertension and diabetes than nonusers. There was no statistical difference in lipid panel values between the two groups. Only 2 out of 10 marijuana users with coronary artery disease on coronary CT angiography had hemodynamically significant stenosis.

Conclusion
Among younger patients being evaluated for chest pain, self-reported cannabis use conferred no additional risk of coronary artery disease as detected on coronary CT angiography.

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