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Study links cannabis use to increased risk of heart attack among US adults younger than 45

Posted at 2:01 PM, Sep 07, 2021

A new study by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) has found that young people who use cannabis may be at a higher risk of a heart attack.

The peer-review study, published Monday and conducted in collaboration with the American Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, found that U.S. adults under 45 who had consumed cannabis within the last 30 days suffered from heart attacks at twice the rate as those who didn't use the drug.

Researchers in the study analyzed surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 2017 and 2018. Those surveys found that 17% of respondents had used cannabis within the last month.

Of that 17%, about 1.3% later reported that they had suffered a myocardial infarction, another term for a heart attack. Of those who had not used cannabis in the past month, 0.8% reported suffering a heart attack.

According to the researchers, the association between recent cannabis use and heart attack was similar to heart attack's association for current tobacco smokers and current smokeless tobacco users.

The study also found that smoking and vaping cannabis were associated with the highest odds of a heart attack. Other forms of consuming cannabis, including edibles, also showed higher odds of a heart attack when compared with non-users, though researchers said those increased odds "were not statistically significant."

Researchers also noted that the risk for a heart attack rose the more a person used the drug.

"Beyond the main finding that heart attacks were found to be more common in cannabis users, what we did find is that the more people use, the higher the risk," Karim Ladha, a co-author of the study, told Global News Canada.

The study comes about a month after the American Heart Association released a statement saying that marijuana "does not appear to have any well-documented benefits for the prevention or treatment of cardiovascular diseases."

The study also comes as the push for marijuana legalization quickens across the country. According to Business Insider, 17 states have legalized the drug for recreational use, and all but 11 states have voted for or approved laws allowing for the sale of medical marijuana.