Study: Cumulative Use of Cannabis Not Associated with Heart Abnormalities at Middle Age

San Francisco, CA: Neither the current nor the cumulative lifetime use of cannabis is associated with heart abnormalities at middle age, according to clinical data published in the journal Addiction.

An international team of researchers from Switzerland and the United States assessed the relationship between cumulative marijuana use and the prevalence of electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities in a group of 2,585 middle age subjects. Researchers controlled for several potential confounders, including subjects’ use of alcohol and tobacco, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Investigators reported: “We found no evidence that current or lifetime cumulative use of marijuana was associated with a higher prevalence or incidence of major or minor ECG abnormalities in this cohort, … although major ECG abnormalities seemed to be less frequent in current marijuana users. … Whether participants used marijuana daily, in the last 30 days or intermittently over a lifetime, marijuana use was not associated with an increase in prevalent or incident specific ECG abnormalities by middle-age.”

They concluded, “Our finding that occasional marijuana was not associated with ECG abnormalities adds to the growing body of evidence that this level of marijuana use and CVD [cardiovascular disease] events and markers of subclinical atherosclerosis are not associated.”

Subjects in the study are participants in an ongoing longitudinal trial known as the CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) study. Data derived from this cohort has previously reported that the cumulative use of marijuana is not independently associated with an increased risk of either atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or other adverse cardiovascular events by middle age.

Full text of the study, “Association between marijuana use and electrocardiographic abnormalities by middle age,” appears in Addiction.