People who smoke cannabis or consume cannabis edibles on a daily basis are a third more likely to develop coronary artery disease (CAD), a new study has revealed.
The study, performed by researchers at The American College of Cardiology, is one of the largest of its kind into the long-term toll of cannabis use on the heart.
Researchers examined the cannabis habits of 175,000 participants and compared the rate of CAD diagnosis in the group with the wider population of the US.
The link to CAD – the most common form of heart disease – remained, regardless of how the drug was ingested (smoked, eaten, etc.).
Dr Ishan Paranjpe, resident physician at Stanford University and the study’s lead author, said: “We found that cannabis use is linked to CAD, and there seems to be a dose-response relationship in that more frequent cannabis use is associated with a higher risk of CAD.
“In terms of the public health message, it shows that there are probably certain harms of cannabis use that weren’t recognised before, and people should take that into account.”
What does cannabis do to you?
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, weed or grass, is classed as a psychoactive drug and is most commonly inhaled, either by smoking or vaping, or ingested in hash or resin form.
However, it is also used as an ingredient in ‘cannabis edibles’ such as teas, sweets and cakes.
The drug can affect different people in different ways, depending on the person taking it, their mood, how much cannabis they have taken, frequency of usage and how much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) it contains: the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis.
When a person consumes cannabis, THC is released into the body, altering normal brain communication, and affecting thinking, memory, movement, pleasure, and concentration.
This is why some cannabis users feel more relaxed, others become giggly and chatty, and some people become confused, paranoid, and anxious.
Cannabis can also cause other physical side effects such as lethargy, drowsiness, and increased hunger. Mild hallucinations can also occur, as can sickness and nausea.
Long-term effects of cannabis use
The latest study from the American College of Cardiology highlights the real dangers posed by long-term, consistent cannabis use.
Although the effects of cannabis can wear off in as little as an hour, depending on how much was consumed, regular cannabis use over a prolonged period has been linked to many other long-term psychological and physical problems, beyond heart disease.
Some long-term side effects include:
- Breathing issues
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Fertility concerns
- Anxiety, paranoia, and mood swings
- Difficulty sleeping
- Poor mental health episodes including schizophrenia
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