‘Soft’ drugs are heavy on the heart: one of the largest studies ever conducted to verify the correlation between the use of marijuana and the cardiovascular consequences shows that consuming it every day increases the probability of coronary heart disease by 34% in the following years. The more sporadic use, monthly or weekly, increases it in a non-significant way but the survey, just presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans, once again warns against the cardiovascular dangers of substances of abuse because – as the cardiologists of the Italian Society of Cardiology (Sic) underline – “drugs, of any kind, have been repeatedly associated with serious cardiovascular consequences: these data show that even a substance wrongly considered ‘mild’ can lead to a greater risk of coronary artery disease and, over time, contribute to the occurrence of events such as heart attack or stroke”.
The study, coordinated by the University of Stanford in California – reports a note – analyzed the data of 175 thousand people in 340 US centers, participants in the All of us research program of the National institutes of health (NIH). The researchers evaluated the correlation between the use of cannabis-derived products declared at the time of study entry and the frequency of the appearance of coronary artery disease in subsequent years, verifying that there is a dose-response effect whereby as use increases of marijuana increases the probability of cardiovascular problems.
“The results of the survey indicate a 34% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease with daily use compared to those who do not use cannabis, while sporadic monthly consumption is not associated with a significant increase”, explains Pasquale Perrone Filardi, president Sic. “These data demonstrate that there are damages related to the use of this substance that have not yet been studied sufficiently, which instead should be known”.
“We know that with other drugs, for example cocaine – explains Perrone Filardi – cardiovascular damage is frequent and serious, so much so that it has led to a significant increase in the number of heart attacks in very young people, even under the age of 40; these new The evidence is worrying, because it indicates that something similar could happen with the use of even more widespread drugs such as marijuana or cannabis-derived hashish”, he warns. “After all, we know that in the heart and vessels there are receptors for tetrahydrocannabinol, the mediator of the psychoactive effects of cannabis, which by interacting with these receptors seems capable of inducing local inflammation and therefore favoring the appearance of atherosclerotic plaques which can cause coronary artery disease” .
The US study also carried out a genomic analysis of the participants to verify if there was an association between genetic traits that predispose to problematic cannabis use and cardiovascular disease. “The data demonstrate that there is a causal association: people genetically predisposed to a cannabis use disorder, in which consumption is daily and there is an obvious dependence, are more likely to have coronary heart disease, regardless of the ‘concomitant use of tobacco and/or alcohol”, adds Ciro Indolfi, past president of Sic. “Recently – he recalls – similar correlations had already emerged with a greater risk of cardiovascular problems such as atrial fibrillation, heart failure, stroke and pulmonary embolism, and also important data indicating that the prolonged use of cannabis products is associated with a greater 10-year risk of atherosclerosis, especially in men.All of this points to the need to better study the mechanisms that may underlie cardiovascular damage from cannabis.”
“The use of these drugs is very common and often starts at a very young age. These new data are worrying – conclude Perrone Filardi and Indolfi – and require more information to be disseminated on the consequences of the use of these drugs: those who use cannabis should talk about it your doctor to monitor your cardiovascular health, possibly implementing risk reduction strategies in case of cannabis use disorder”.
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