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Marijuana use linked to heart problems

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(CNN) – Young people who use marijuana may be at risk for heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular problems, a new study suggests.

Researchers reviewed records from the French Addictovigilance Network, a national system of centers in France that gather information about drug abuse and dependence. From 2006 to 2010, they found 35 reports of patients who had experienced cardiovascular complications following cannabis use. The  study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

About 85% of the patients were men and their average age was 34. In nine cases the patient died.

While the study doesn’t identify a particular level of risk of marijuana use, it does call for more research on the subject, and warns doctors that there seems to be at least some danger.

“Currently people think (cannabis is) harmless,” says lead study author Emilie Jouanjus, at the Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier. “What I think is very important from my work is that we see cannabis use may lead to very serious complications on the cardiovascular system.”

Jouanjus was surprised to find all but one of the patients with cardiovascular problems were under the age of 50. She believes this study shows only the tip of the iceberg, as people usually under-report their cannabis use.

“This study shows a some preliminary evidence of cardiovascular harm from marijuana but isn’t conclusive,” Dr. Allen Taylor, chief of cardiology at Georgetown University School of Medicine, told CNN in an e-mail. “The study’s limitations are important in that we can’t know how high the risk is, just that there is a signal of risk between marijuana smoking and heart troubles.”

Taylor says it’s a shame that more isn’t known about the potential harms of cannabis.

“It seems that public perception is ahead of the science,” he says. “We should remain open to the scientific facts as they evolve.”

Only 20% of patients in the study had a known history of heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. The other patients may have had unknown cardiovascular risk factors or a history that was not documented in the medical file.

“I’m not saying that any user of cannabis would suffer from any of these complications,” Jouanjus says. But “we do not have enough information to say that cannabis use is safe.”

Dr. Shereif Rezkalla. who wrote an editorial accompanying the study in JAMA, said doctors should be required to ask about marijuana use when they see a cardiac patient.

“The perception that marijuana is safe is deep-seated in the public and even amongst some health professionals,” says Rezkalla, a cardiologist at Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield, Wisconsin.

Taylor cautions that while this study doesn’t provide a final answer on the link between cannabis and serious heart problems, “it at least gives one pause to suggest to patients it may not be a heart-healthy habit.”

Previous research has suggested marijuana use may double the risk of stroke in young adults.

By By Trisha Henry, CNN

The-CNN-Wire
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18 comments

  • ASHinSTL

    Any study that makes a conclusion based upon “[35 instances]” clearly does not have a large enough participation to give their conclusion any merit whatsoever or has cherry picked participants in order to have the conclusion support their assumed biases.

    Think about it… had it been an honest study with numbers representative of the number who actually consume cannabis on a regular basis, 35 instances is but a mere fraction of a fraction and warrants no serious consideration.

    Now, I will concede the 9 deaths claim should be looked into… but on its face this certainly seems to support my prior assessment, one looking to end with a hoped for result.

      • Bob Schmortzrock

        Reporting of this study has so far neglected emphasize the fact that the researchers relied on test subject self-reporting, that there were serious confounding factors in the test subject’s personal history profile (use of alcohol and/or tobacco), and that there were no statistical comparisons between people who smoke tobacco, or to people whose occupation’s expose them to large amounts of carbon monoxide (fire fighters).

        In short, the reporting on this subject has been inflammatory and inaccruate. This is not unusual considering that cannabis use has a moral component to it that draws those with limited a toxicological background to ignore study limitations and therefore report erroneous or misleading conclusions.

      • ASHinSTL

        Skepticism. You’d do well learn about it.

        And not accepting that any god chose any “people” hardly qualifies as anti-Semitic. At some point in life you’re going to mistakenly make coherent argument, just playing the odds, and what are you going to do then little Stevie? You’re so well versed in sounding like an absolute idiot that hopefully you’ll spring a leak and your ticker will just quit… until then I’ll destroy your every ignorant utterance. I’m even considering finding you in real life to follow you around and pick apart the nonsense you must spout off every time you open your abscessed breathing hole.

      • ByeByeToTheRite

        Steven, this is just another piece of right-wing conservative biased propaganda, as usual. Been going on since “Reefer Madness” (yeah, that “educational” film was all pure science, right?)

        Not only is the sample small, as the much brighter ASH pointed out, but drawing this conclusion just because they had a heart problem after cannabis use is about as silly to connect as – well, I’ll bet the all drank some water the day they had the heart attack, too – WOW, did water cause their heart attack?

        This is SUCH a frivilous study with SUCH nonsensical points that it just HAS to be phony right-wing propaganda. Like as if that’s not new.

        P.S. Good thing no anti-semitic remarks! It’s okay to bash blacks and Mexicans and arabs but HEAVENS NO! Nothing critical of Jews or Israel at all – they are perfect, right?

      • ASHinSTL

        Alright Steve… I’ve had time, made time in fact to read over the study. Feel free to address any point I’ve made or that this study proclaims. I don’t mind insults, as I’m sure you’ve noticed I play well in that area myself, but just this once try to remain in the realm of insult and not wander into ad hominem territory by merely flinging about insults and never even attempting to address the topic at hand. For those who have trouble keeping up, like Stevie… the topic at hand is this study and only this study and whether the conclusion have any validity. I’ll be waiting Steve.

  • ByeByeToTheRite

    Probably Monsanto produced chemical herbicides or genetically modified crops caused these problems, but they figured out a way to present this as an excuse! Just like all our stress problems here in America are caused by poor diet or lack of excercise – uh, huh, right – sure it is. Our stress problems are caused by our STRESSFUL, work work work competitive capitalist system for those born into no opportunity, that’s what causes our stress problems. So these folks can make any statistics mean anything they want them to mean.

    This is just so much more right-wing Reagan anti-drug propaganda, coming from Fox as usual. No factual basis or significance whatsoever.

  • ByeByeToTheRite

    I smoke pot every hour, so what if I can’t support my self as long as I’m on dissability that’s all that matters.

  • b

    Hey idiots, quit blamin , all the way to Reagan (oh Bush too!!) Your midia, Obama, is in!!! So get a brain n start blamin whos to blame. Reagans been dead a long time, Bush is retired, Ok dumba#%@.!!!

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