According to a study, smoking marijuana regularly can increase the risk of life-threatening irregular heartbeats.
Cannabis users were 35% more likely to be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation within the decade than non-users.
Researchers believe the culprit is toxic byproducts of inhaling toxic smoke.
Heart disease is the most common type of treated heart arrhythmia that can lead to stroke, heart failure, and other heart complications.
At least 2.7 million Americans live with an irregular heartbeat, although it can often go undiagnosed because many people have no symptoms.
The latest study, which included data from 23 million patients, also looked at the risk of cardiac arrhythmias in users of other drugs.
Cocaine users were 61% more likely to develop AF than non-users.
People who used opiates, which can include heroin and prescription drugs, had a 74% increased risk of developing serious arrhythmia.
Cannabis users were 35% more likely to develop AF than non-users. The researchers behind the new study attribute the negative health effects to inhaling toxic particles.
People who used any of the four drugs studied were significantly more vulnerable to developing atrial fibrillation compared to the baseline control group who used no drugs, shown here. People who used methamphetamine were most at risk.
Atrial fibrillation is a common form of cardiac arrhythmia. It occurs when the upper chambers of the heart (atria) beat out of sync with the lower chambers (ventricles). This can lead to a myriad of heart problems as well as blood clotting, which increases the risk of stroke.
The report, written by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, was published in the European Heart Journal.
They write: “Despite a weaker association with incident AF than the other substances, cannabis use still had an association of similar or greater magnitude with risk factors such as dyslipidemia, diabetes mellitus, and kidney disease. chronicles.”
“Furthermore, people who used cannabis had a similar relative risk of incident AF as people who used traditional tobacco,” they said.
In atrial fibrillation, the heart’s upper chambers, or atria, beat chaotically and out of sync with the heart’s lower chambers, or ventricles.
The researchers analyzed data from every hospital admission and every visit to outpatient surgical facilities and emergency departments in California from 2005 to 2015, gathering information from a total of 23 million people.
Only a fraction of the patients included in the study used drugs: 132,834 used cannabis, 98,271 used methamphetamine, 48,700 used cocaine and 10,032 used opiates.
Marijuana is the third most widely used drug in the United States behind alcohol and tobacco, and its prevalence is increasing as more states embrace its therapeutic and medicinal properties.
What are the health risks of marijuana?
About 48 million Americans smoke cannabis at least once a year, according to official estimates.
This figure is increasing as states continue to legalize the drug.
But evidence is also mounting on its health risks, especially for young adults.
Researchers suggest that it has the following negative impacts:
- brain damage: It can cause permanent loss of IQ and even impair development in young adults;
- Mental Health: It has been linked to suicide, depression and anxiety in the past, although it is not clear whether marijuana is the cause;
- Daily life: Surveys associate it with more problems in careers and relationships;
- Conduct: Those who drive under the influence have slower reactions and less coordination, research shows.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
More than 48 million Americans try marijuana each year, or 18% of the population. About nine percent of first-time cannabis users become addicts within a decade.
Meanwhile, it has been legalized for recreational use in 19 states so far, with others like North Dakota considering their own legalization moves midway through this year.
The UCSF study was not intended to dissect the individual components of marijuana use or any other drug use that can lead to atrial fibrillation. But the researchers posit that inhaled particles are a likely factor.
Lead researcher Dr Gregory Marcus, UCSF Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology, said: “It is also fascinating to consider that inhalants travel directly from the lungs to the pulmonary veins, which empty into the left atrium, and that the pulmonary veins and the left atrium are particularly important in generating AF.’
In general, older people are most at risk of developing AF.
Stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine have a stronger link to cardiovascular disease because they cause the heart to beat faster and harder, raising blood pressure to dangerous levels.
Although, the long-term risks associated with marijuana use include chronic lung problems and cognitive impairment, especially in young people whose brains are still developing.
A large 2012 study in New Zealand found that persistent marijuana use from adolescence was associated with an average loss of 6 or up to 8 IQ points measured in mid-adulthood.
Many people use marijuana with the theory that it will boost their creativity, although the science supporting this claim is dubious.
A recent study by researchers at the University of Washington was recently published in which 400 participants took a creativity test either 15 minutes after smoking the drug or 12 hours later.
The researchers concluded that there was no significant difference in creativity between the high or sober groups, leading them to theorize that it is users’ perception of creativity that is distorted when they are high. .