Cannabis linked to serious cardiovascular complications

From Medicine Today, June 2014:

Cannabis use is associated with a significant increase in the risk of serious cardiovascular complications such as acute coronary syndrome, arteriopathies and acute cerebral angiopathy, according to data from the French Addictovigilance Network.

Researchers found 1.8% of the 1979 cannabis-related reports to the Network, which collects physician data on serious abuse and dependence cases related to psychoactive drug use, were for cardiovascular complications, and of these 35 reports, nine (25.6%) led to patient death.

There were 22 cardiac complications (including 20 acute coronary syndromes), 10 peripheral complications such as lower limb or juvenile arteriopathies, and three cerebral complications (acute cerebral angiopathy, transient cortical blindness, and spasm of the cerebral artery).

‘Increased reporting of cardiovascular complications related to cannabis and their extreme seriousness (with a death rate of 25.6%) indicate cannabis as a possible risk factor for cardiovascular disease in young adults, in line with previous finding,’ researchers wrote in their study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (published online on 23 April).

‘Our findings indicate that cannabis intoxication should be more systematically investigated in the medical management of cardiovascular complications observed in young adults.’

Professor Jan Copeland, Director of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, said awareness was growing, particularly among those working in the field of addiction medicine, of the cardiovascular side effects of cannabis. She cited one study showing that the incidence of myocardial infarction is increased nearly fivefold in the first hour after cannabis smoking.

‘We are also seeing now coroners’ reports, for example a series from Ireland and Germany where they have tried to exclude all other factors and cannabis-related arrhythmias seemed to be the cause of death in some of the young people,’ Professor Copeland told Medicine Today. Read more.

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