Study: Marijuana use linked to cardiac deaths
Thursday, January 11, 2018
With the start of a new year, many people resolve to try new things, be more creative, have adventures and in general act more youthful.
For those who wish to experiment with the psychoactive form of marijuana, there are now more and more legal opportunities to do so. Many may be considering smoking, ingesting, vaping or dabbing marijuana to get high, adding to their adventures.
However, the New Year also brings sobering information. Rahi Abouk, Ph.D., from the Department of Economics, Finance and Global Business at William Paterson University, and his colleagues found an increase in cardiac-related deaths in those states that have legalized the medicinal use of marijuana.
Abouk and his group analyzed the data related to cardiac deaths from the United States Vital Statistics for the years 1990 through 2014. Their interest was to determine whether there was an increase in the rates of cardiac deaths after the passing of legal medicinal marijuana programs. They also factored in aspects of a more liberal practice of dispensing marijuana. Some states do have more stringent criteria to obtain a medicinal marijuana certification.
Overall, they found an increase in the rate of cardiac death of 2.3 percent for men and 1.3 percent for women after the passage of laws allowing for medicinal use of marijuana. The rates were higher in those states that had lax certification and dispensing processes.
Marijuana does have negative impact on the heart, but this is not something that proponents for the legalization of marijuana ever report. It is also not new information.
A mouse model from 1976 clearly demonstrated significant consequences for heart functioning with the application of various cannabinoids, including the psychoactive THC form of marijuana. The THC cannabinoid depressed cardiac contraction and produced tachycardia.
A 2001 study in the journal Circulation found that smoking marijuana increases the risk of a heart attack and can trigger an acute myocardial infarction. The symptoms of irregular cardiac function can present in seemingly healthy marijuana users in the form of sinus bradycardia and other more significant responses such as sinus arrest and ventricular asystole.
Barbara Yankey, Ph.D., from the School of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, led a group who studied data from the 2005 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey linked to data from the 2011 public-use linked mortality file of the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There were 1,213 survey participants aged 20 and above who responded to questions specific to marijuana use. The linked data analysis found that marijuana use is associated with risk for hypertension-related mortality. The longer the use, the greater the risk.
So, for some, the adventure of marijuana may come with at a deadly price. It is always wise consult with a physician before trying marijuana. Those in the marijuana industry who care have a saying: Start low and go slow.
Starting Jan. 1, California now has legal adult use of recreational marijuana. They have posted suggestions to remain safe.
The site also states that "it’s next to impossible to die from a marijuana overdose alone." While marijuana alone may not cause a death, the research is showing that marijuana does contribute to deaths.
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