Conference Coverage

Getting high heightens stroke, arrhythmia risks


 

REPORTING FROM AHA 2019

Stoners, beware: Young, frequent marijuana users who also smoke cigarettes are at a nearly three-fold increased risk for stroke, and people with cannabis use disorder are at a 50% greater risk of being hospitalized for arrhythmias, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2019.

Dr. Tarang Parekh of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. copyright Sahithi Pemmasani

Dr. Tarang Parekh

An analysis of pooled data on nearly 44,000 participants in a cross-sectional survey showed that, among the 13.6% who reported using marijuana within the last 30 days, the adjusted odds ratio for young-onset stroke (aged 18-44 years), compared with non-users, was 2.75, reported Tarang Parekh, MBBS, a health policy researcher of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and colleagues.

In a separate study, a retrospective analysis of national inpatient data showed that people diagnosed with cannabis use disorder – a pathological pattern of impaired control, social impairment, risky behavior or physiological adaptation similar in nature to alcoholism – had a 47%-52% increased likelihood of hospitalization for an arrhythmia, reported Rikinkumar S. Patel, MD, a psychiatry resident at Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman, Okla.

“As these [cannabis] products become increasingly used across the country, getting clearer, scientifically rigorous data is going to be important as we try to understand the overall health effects of cannabis,” said AHA President Robert Harrington, MD, of Stanford (Calif.) University in a statement.

Currently, use of both medical and recreational marijuana is fully legal in 11 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Medical marijuana is legal with recreational use decriminalized (or penalties reduced) in 28 other states, and totally illegal in 11 other states, according to employee screening firm DISA Global Solutions.

Stroke study

In an oral presentation with simultaneous publication in the AHA journal Stroke, Dr. Parekh and colleagues presented an analysis of pooled data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a nationally representative cross-sectional survey collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016 and 2017.

They looked at baseline sociodemographic data and created multivariable logistic regression models with state fixed effects to determine whether marijuana use within the last 30 days was associated with young-onset stroke.

They identified 43,860 participants representing a weighted sample of 35.5 million Americans. Of the sample, 63.3% were male, and 13.6 % of all participants reported using marijuana in the last 30 days.

They found in an unadjusted model that marijuana users had an odds ratio for stroke, compared with nonusers, of 1.59 (P less than.1), and in a model adjusted for demographic factors (gender, race, ethnicity, and education) the OR increased to 1.76 (P less than .05).

When they threw risk behavior into the model (physical activity, body mass index, heavy drinking, and cigarette smoking), they saw that the OR for stroke shot up to 2.75 (P less than .01).

“Physicians should ask patients if they use cannabis and counsel them about its potential stroke risk as part of regular doctor visits,” Dr. Parekh said in a statement.

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