The scientists identified a possible link between habitual cannabis use and some structural changes in heart function. According to research conducted by a team from Queen Mary University in the London United Kingdom which was published in the journal JACC Cardiovascular Imaging.
Analyzing magnetic resonance imaging from the UK Biobank population study, the team identified an association between regular cannabis use and an enlarged left ventricle main pumping chamber of the heart, along with early signs of impaired cardiac function.
The lead author Dr. Mohammed Khanji, Queen Mary’s principal clinical professor, explains that these findings are inconclusive, but the research was conducted in a context of decriminalization and legalization of recreational cannabis use in many countries and we urgently need research.
Systematically to identify the long-term implications of regular cannabis use in the heart and blood vessels. This would allow health professionals and policymakers to improve counseling for patients and the general public.
The study analyzed cardiac scanners of 3,407 individuals with an average age of 62 who had no cardiovascular disease. The majority (3,255) rarely or never used cannabis, 1 05 had used it regularly, but more than five years before being interviewed and 47 were regular consumers.
The last group was more likely to have larger left ventricles and show early signs of heart failure, measured by the way the heart muscle fibers deform during contraction. However, there seems to be no difference between the three groups in the total mass of the left ventricle or the amount of blood expelled with each heartbeat.
No changes in the size and function of the other three chambers of the heart were identified. The analysis also found that people who had used cannabis regularly but who had quit smoking had a cardiac size and function similar to those who rarely or never took the medication.
Dr. Khanji, a consulting cardiologist at the Newham University Hospital and the Barts Heart Center – of the Barts Health NHS Trust says that they believe it is the “first study that systematically reports changes in cardiac structure and function associated with recreational cannabis using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, which is a very sensitive imaging tool and the current reference standard for evaluating cardiac chambers. “
The World Health Organization has warned about the possible harmful health effects of non-medical cannabis use and requested more research specifically on cardiac impact.