A recent study revealed that daily use of Cannabis can lead to Coronary Heart Disease (CAD). This occurs due to the deposition of Cholesterol in the walls of the arteries supplying blood to the heart.
Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease (CAD) is the most common form of heart disease, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US. It is also known as Atherosclerosis or Ischemic Heart Disease. It is characterized by the deposition of plaque made up of cholesterol and other materials in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This clot prevents the blood from reaching the heart, ultimately leading to a heart attack.
The symptoms of this disease might not be noticed by the patient until there is a blood clot as a result of plaque buildup. According to the US CDC, for some people, the first sign of CAD is a heart attack. The common symptoms of CAD include chest pain or discomfort (angina), shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, light-headedness, nausea, and pain in the arms or shoulders.
A recent study presented at the American College of Cardiology showed that people who use marijuana frequently on a daily basis are more likely to develop CAD compared to people who have never used the drug.
The research was performed on a team of 150,000 people taking part in the All of Us Research Program of the National Institute of Health in order to better understand the relationship between cannabis use frequency and rates of CAD. Through this program, information on people all around the US was collected over time, said CNN.
These participants were divided into five groups: daily users, weekly users, monthly users, those who used weed once or twice in three months, and those who never used weed. The researchers compared these categories, taking their medical histories into consideration. The results revealed that daily users were 34 percent more likely to get CAD compared to those who had never used marijuana. The results of the study held true even after researchers factored out other potential causes of coronary heart disease, such as age, sex, and major cardiovascular risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, obesity, smoking, and alcohol use.
Ishan Paranjpe, MD, a resident physician at Stanford University and the study’s lead author, said in a statement published by ACC that, “We found that cannabis use is linked to CAD, and there seems to be a dose-response relationship in that more frequent cannabis use is associated with a higher risk of CAD.” He added, “In terms of the public health message, it shows that there are probably certain harms of cannabis use that weren’t recognised before, and people should take that into account.”
Effects of Using Cannabis aka Weed
In 2020, the American Heart Association warned that smoking or vaping any substance, including marijuana, could affect the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. But the recent study did not reveal the form of intake that is more likely to develop CAD faster: edibles or smoking.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical substance present in the cannabis plant. This not only makes a person high by binding to receptors in the brain, but also binds to the receptors in the blood vessels of the heart. Therefore, the repeated use of THC can cause inflammation of blood vessels, leading to heart disease. But, since THC affects the brain faster when smoked, the researchers argue that future research should investigate various usage methods and their impact on the heart. Cannabis smokers, especially younger people, may have an elevated risk of suffering strokes or other ailments.