December 23, 2019
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Cannabis use may confer structural changes, impairment to heart

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Patients who regularly used cannabis were more likely to have adverse changes in subclinical dysfunction and left ventricular size compared with those who rarely or never used the substance, according to a study published in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging.

“We have shown that regular cannabis use is associated with changes in the size and function of the main chamber of the heart,” Mohammed Y. Khanji, MD, consultant cardiologist at Newham University Hospital and Barts Heart Centre in London and an honorary senior clinical lecturer at Queen Mary University London, told Healio. “Those who were previous users had similar heart size and function to rare/never users of cannabis.”

Researchers analyzed data from 3,407 patients (mean age, 62 years; 55% women) without CVD who underwent MRI. Cannabis use was self-reported and categorized as the following:

  • rare/no (n = 3,255), defined as no use or less than monthly use;
  • previous regular (n = 105), described as weekly or daily usage up to 5 years prior; or
  • current regular (n = 47), defined as weekly or daily usage within 5 years.

Patients who regularly used cannabis were linked to larger indexed LV end-systolic volumes (3.3 mL/m2; 95% CI, 0.78-5.83), LV end-diastolic volumes (5.31 mL/m2; 95% CI, 1.4-9.3; P = .008) and impaired global circumferential strain (–0.78; 95% CI, –1.47 to –0.09) compared with those who reported rare/no use. This persisted after adjusting for potential confounders including BMI, age, sex, cholesterol medication use, systolic BP, smoking, diabetes and alcohol consumption.

There were no differences in LV myocardial mass, stroke volume and ejection fraction, in addition to left atrial, right ventricular and right atrial parameters after multivariable adjustment. Patients who reported previous cannabis use had similar parameters to those who reported rare/no use.

“We feel these are important findings that should stimulate further research and debate on the long-term effects on cannabis use along with the dose response and potential impact of other recreational substances used in addition to cannabis,” Khanji said in an interview. – by Darlene Dobkowski

For more information:

Mohammed Y. Khanji, MD, can be reached at m.khanji@qmul.ac.uk.

Disclosures: Khanji reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.