Marijuana Use and Cardiovascular Disease.
Franz, Christopher A. MD; Frishman, William H. MD
Cardiology in Review.
24(4):158-162, July/August 2016.
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Marijuana is currently the most used illicit substance in the world. With the current trend of decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in the US, physicians in the US will encounter more patients using marijuana recreationally over a diverse range of ages and health states. Therefore, it is relevant to review marijuana's effects on human cardiovascular physiology and disease. Compared with placebo, marijuana cigarettes cause increases in heart rate, supine systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and forearm blood flow via increased sympathetic nervous system activity. These actions increase myocardial oxygen demand to a degree that they can decrease the time to exercise-induced angina in patients with a history of stable angina. In addition, marijuana has been associated with triggering myocardial infarctions (MIs) in young male patients. Smoking marijuana has been shown to increase the risk of MI onset by a factor of 4.8 for the 60 minutes after marijuana consumption, and to increase the annual risk of MI in the daily cannabis user from 1.5% to 3% per year. Human and animal models suggest that this effect may be due to coronary arterial vasospasm. However, longitudinal studies have indicated that marijuana use may not have a significant effect on long-term mortality. While further research is required to definitively determine the impact of marijuana on cardiovascular disease, it is reasonable to recommend against recreational marijuana use, especially in individuals with a history of coronary artery disorders.
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