Cannabis would increase the risk of arrhythmia

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Cannabis may increase the risk of’ arrhythmia

The risk of suffering from atrial fibrillation was 35% higher among cannabis users.

Consumption of four substances, including cannabis, may increase the risk of suffering from atrial fibrillation , a very common and potentially serious form of cardiac arrhythmia, warns a new US study.

The other three substances are cocaine, opioids and methamphetamines. The case of cannabis, however, is a bit special, since it is a product that can be obtained very easily and legally.

About 49,000 of the study participants were cocaine users.

It's interesting to see that cannabis is added to the list of risk factors for atrial fibrillation, commented Dr. Alexandre Raymond-Paquin, a specialist in electrophysiology and this heart disorder. at the Montreal Heart Institute.

“We already had smaller studies, a little less robust, that suggested such an association, so I'm not completely surprised, but I'm glad to see that we can finally establish an association a little more strong link between cannabis use and atrial fibrillation. »

—Alexandre Raymond-Paquin, Montreal Heart Institute

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco analyzed data from 23.5 million Californian adults who needed hospital care between 2005 and 2015. None had atrial fibrillation (a disorganization of electrical activity at the atria) at the start of the study.

About 133,000 of these were cannabis users, 98 000 methamphetamine users, 49,000 cocaine users and 10,000 opiate users.

After ten years, almost one million patients, or 4.2% of the total, suffered from atrial fibrillation. The strongest association was found with methamphetamines and the weakest with cannabis. The risk of suffering from this form of arrhythmia was still 35% higher among cannabis users.

In the popular imagination, cannabis is often perceived as a more mundane and harmless substance than cocaine, opioids and methamphetamines. However, underlines Dr. Raymond-Paquin, cannabis is accompanied by potentially deleterious effects on the cardiovascular level, of which the population must be informed.

“Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's good for your health.” , he recalled, notably making a comparison with tobacco. Just because it comes from a plant doesn't mean it's good for your health. »

—Alexandre Raymond-Paquin, Montreal Heart Institute

Beyond an increased risk of atrial fibrillation discussed in this study, other research has linked cannabis to a greater risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart attack. x27;heart failure, added the specialist, but further studies will be needed to dig deeper.

The mechanisms by which each substance might increase the risk of atrial fibrillation remain unclear. We do know, however, specifies Dr. Raymond-Paquin, that cannabis acts on several receptors, in particular at the level of the nervous system, the cardiovascular system and the heart muscle, which would be at the origin of a certain disturbance. .

“But I have to say that it is an evolving science, and then probably we will have more answers in the near future. »

—Alexandre Raymond-Paquin, Montreal Heart Institute

Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of arrhythmia. It affects 2% of the general population, 4% of those aged 65 and over, and 12% of those aged 80 and over. The problem can lead to stroke if not treated properly.

If certain risk factors such as #x27;age, sex and genetic makeup are not modifiable, others such as high blood pressure, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and alcohol consumption are, and cannabis use could be added to this list, Dr. Raymond-Paquin concluded.

“It is by trying to control all these risk factors you can put the odds in your favor.

—Alexandre Raymond-Paquin, Montreal Heart Institute

The findings of this study have been published in the pages of the European Heart Journal .

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