October 13, 2021

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Cannabis use doubled heart attack risk in young adults, study shows – National

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As Canadians smoked more weed during the COVID-19 lockdowns out of boredom and stress, a new study shows young cannabis users are two times more likely to have heart attacks.

The peer-reviewed study, published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that myocardial infarction – commonly known as heart attack – was more common in U.S. adults under 45 who either smoked, vaporizes, or consumed cannabis as an edible Non-users.

Read more: Did Canadian Cannabis Users Increase Their Use During The Pandemic?

“Aside from the main finding that heart attacks are more common among cannabis users, we found that the more people use cannabis, the higher the risk,” said Karim Ladha, clinical researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and co-author of the study.

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While smoking was the most common form of consumption, vaping and edible foods also increased the risk of a heart attack, suggesting that no method is safer than another, he added.

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Ladha and his colleagues examined data collected between 2017 and 2018 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including more than 33,000 American adults ages 18 to 44.

Cannabis users were more likely to be male, unmarried, cigarette and e-cigarette smokers, and heavy alcohol drinkers, the data showed.

This latest study adds to the growing body of evidence linking cannabis use to cardiac complications.

Read More: Boredom, Pandemic Stress Behind Alcohol Rise, Cannabis Use For Some Canadians: Poll

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In April, researchers from the University of Guelph found that arterial stiffness in cannabis users was greater than that of non-users, and cardiac function was also lower than that of non-users. They studied 35 people aged 19 to 30, half of whom had used cannabis in the past.

Another 2019 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that adolescents and young adults who used cannabis were 30 percent higher at risk of hospitalized heart attack than those who did not use the drug.

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Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic only made the situation of Canadians worse when it comes to their cannabis use.

According to a study by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) published in January 2021, more than half of existing cannabis users across Canada reported an increase in their use during the first wave of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, a StatsCan poll conducted in January found that 34 percent of Canadians who previously used cannabis said their use had increased over the past year. They also pointed to stress, boredom and loneliness as reasons for the changes.

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Weighing Risks and Benefits

Canada legalized recreational marijuana back in 2018, making it only the second country after Uruguay to allow the sale and use of non-medicinal cannabis.

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Three years later, Ladha believes that politics has overtaken science and is calling for more research on the health risks and benefits of cannabis as the drug’s uptake and effectiveness have increased.

“There’s this assumption that cannabis is safe,” he said.

“The reality is that people are consuming cannabis very differently now.”

Read more: The Opioid Crisis Is Killing Canadians, But Where Is The Political Will To Solve It?

Ladha said the problem with the widespread legalization of cannabis is that the long-term effects are unclear.

“I don’t think that more cannabis use will necessarily benefit society, especially if it’s only used for recreational purposes,” he told Global News.

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In addition to cardiovascular disease, cannabis use can also lead to psychiatric effects and breathing problems.

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Despite the health risks, cannabis is also used for therapeutic purposes, with doctors allowing its use for certain conditions such as neuropathic pain and multiple sclerosis.

It is also used to treat nausea and vomiting.

Although the evidence for use in treatments is limited, David Mazer, a clinical scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital and co-author of the study, said that individual users must weigh their risks and benefits in consultation with healthcare providers.

“The importance of the data from this study is that it helps both users and healthcare providers better weigh the risks and benefits and decide whether or not a person should use cannabis, or under what conditions,” he said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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