Marijuana Use Linked To Weakened Heart Muscles

By Christie Abagon , Nov 15, 2016 01:40 AM EST

A study presented at the annual scientific conference of the American Heart Association in New Orleans suggests that marijuana use can weaken heart muscles, particularly in young men.  The researchers examined the link between marijuana use and heart health and found out that at least two cases of stress cardiomyopathy in medical literature have been related to marijuana use.

Smoking Pot Doubles The Risk Of Getting Stress Cardiomyopathy

Based on the study, researchers found that marijuana users were almost twice as likely to develop stress cardiomyopathy compared to non-users, even after taking other cardiovascular risk factors into consideration.  Stress cardiomyopathy commonly linked with sudden emotional stress, reduces the heart's ability to pump, leading to chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and sometimes fainting.

Amitoj Singh, M.D. study co-author and chief cardiology fellow at St. Luke's University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania said: "The effects of marijuana, especially on the cardiovascular system, are not well known yet. With its increasing availability and legalization in some states, people need to know that marijuana may be harmful to the heart and blood vessels in some people."

Marijuana May Not Be As Good As Some People Think

In the U.S., eight states legalizes the sale and possession of marijuana for medical and recreational use, but scientists are now questioning if marijuana is really as beneficial as others claim it to be.  Dr. Ann Bolger, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association said: "If this is in some way predictive of poor outcomes or indicative that we need to have concern about the cardiovascular health and outcomes of patients using marijuana, I think it's a very good thing to start to think about."

More Research Is Needed To Back Up Claims About Marijuana Use That Is Said To Weaken Heart Muscles

This study has some limitations, though, because it was retrospective.  The researchers could not determine how frequently the marijuana users were using marijuana, or what the timeframe was between the use of marijuana and occurrence of stress cardiomyopathy. Additionally, the researchers could not analyze whether possibly marijuana-related heart problems are increasing where use is legal, because the database the researchers used regional reports instead of state-by-state statistics. 

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